In addition to core strengthening, Ratliff attributes his recent stretch of perfect attendance to the attention he now pays to vitamins and minerals. He believes his previous vulnerability to injury was due in part to a deficiency in certain minerals that are key to the body's proper functioning, including calcium and magnesium. After Ratliff was traded to the Hawks, Atlanta commentator Mike Glenn put him in touch with Dr. Joe Wallach, who runs a company called American Longevity:
They gave me these forms telling me about how osteoporosis can cause a hundred different diseases in your body because of calcium deficiency ... Why do older people start to get knee replacements and hip replacements as they get older? It's because they have a deficiency in calcium. They are not putting calcium back in their bodies. Therefore their bones can't stay strong. They become brittle, and you get the arthritis, and you get the broken hips and things.
Ratliff relies on daily vitamins and minerals to replenish what he sweats out during the grueling NBA season. Here's a breakdown of what he takes every day:
- 70+ essential minerals
- Vitamin C
- EFA - essential fatty acids ("EFA keeps your ligaments elastic, so they don't tear.")
- Glucogel - gelatin pills for cartilage health, muscular nutrition and flexibility
- Osteocal - calcium for strong bones and joint health
American Longevity also developed a special sports nutrition drink tailored to Ratliff's needs as an NBA player. He explains:
With my drink, you have the 70+ minerals in it, you have vitamin B12, you have vitamin A, D, you have potassium, you have ginseng, you have green tea, you have all these different things that your body can use to regroup. And it's been great for me. I drink it while I'm playing, and my energy level comes right back. I get tired, I have to sit down. I take a drink, and I'm right back at 100 percent.
Ratliff is clearly on a path that works for him. His numbers in the 2003-2004 season were outstanding. He posted a career-high nine blocks in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers on February 24. At the end of the year, he ranked number one in blocks per game, total blocks and blocks per 48 minutes. Perhaps most impressive, Ratliff has remained pain-free and injury-free for the longest stretch since his first two seasons in the league. His openness to new ideas and dedication to self-improvement have helped him refine both his game play and his approach to day-to-day fitness.
For more information on Theo Ratliff, nutrition and exercise, check out the links on the next page.