Written by Tonja H. Ward
Former NBA player Charlie Ward is best known for his nine years as point guard for the New York Knicks. He is also known for leading the Florida State Seminoles football team to their first national championship in 1993 and winning the Heisman Trophy the same year. After completing an 11-year NBA career playing with the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets, in 2005 he accepted a position as Assistant Coach for Player Development with the Rockets where he is currently on staff. But Charlie is best known to me, however, as my wonderful husband of 11 years (who does take out the trash), an incredible father (whose children think he’s a giant jungle gym), and my very favorite client in my Holistic Health Counseling practice.
Indeed, although I have both undergraduate and law degrees and am a licensed New York attorney, one of the most gratifying and truly unifying and harmonizing parts of our marriage has been our shared interest in natural and holistic health. I’ve always been fascinated by natural approaches to health. Today, I am a certified Holistic Health Counselor and founder and director of Choice: Wellness, a practice devoted to empowering motivated athletes and busy families to make healthy lifestyle changes.
Like most professional athletes, Charlie’s body took a beating from the daily grind of professional basketball. He experienced his share of health challenges and injuries throughout his career, ranging from knee injuries and stress fractures to severe bouts of the flu.
However, athletes are expected to stay healthy, recover quickly and perform at a very high level each night of the grueling 82-game regular season plus playoffs while traveling across the nation weekly playing with injuries and through illness or discomfort. This type of wear and tear takes a toll on the body and can change the outlook of long-term health. Unfortunately, many athletes eventually leave the game with not only aches and pains but also degenerative conditions to add to the memories of playing professional sports.
I love my husband, and I want him to be there for our children for a long time. In our experience, most team trainers and doctors have not been interested in natural methods of pain relief despite the potential hazards of prescription and over-the-counter medications. In light of this, it became my goal to find ways to keep Charlie healthy during his playing career and change the prognosis for his post-athletic life as a coach, which has its own set of demands. Taking care of Charlie has meant three things: First, getting the right medical attention for the various injuries; second, learning about and finding high-quality supplements; and finally, convincing him of the importance of balanced proper nutrition.
As his career progressed and the injuries seemed to take longer to heal and occurred more frequently, Charlie turned to natural and holistic health as a means of extending his playing days. Once Charlie discovered the difference good nutrition and proper supplementation made in helping his recovery time and his overall health, he began to realize that coping with symptoms and accepting pain as a way of life was not the only choice.
This has been especially true since Charlie found CapraFlex™, which contains a unique blend of cartilage-building compounds like glucosamine and chondroitin; anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving enzymes; and bone density and joint-supporting minerals. I believe CapraFlex™ has been instrumental to his healing in a way unlike any other supplement we have tried because its two major ingredients, type II collagen and predigested goat’s milk whey, are naturally occurring whole-food concentrates with amazing proven healing compounds. That they are predigested with beneficial probiotics allows for maximum absorption, which is important since you can only benefit from what your body absorbs.
As a result of using CapraFlex™, Charlie’s post-athletic career knees and health are better than ever. He leads a happy, healthy life free of the usual discomforts associated with athletes.
Following is my interview with Charlie about his winning choices for healthy joints, bones and long-term health.
TW: When did you first experience a major sports injury?
CW: In 1985, in my freshman year in high school after my last basketball game, my knee started swelling on me, but I ignored it. Then after spring football, I went to the doctor and found that I had osteochondritis, which is a degenerative bone disease, in my right knee. The doctors gave me the option to take the bone out or they could try to get the bone to mend together, but there were no guarantees, since the doctors had never seen anyone play a long time after this type of injury. My parents and I chose to mend it. The first surgery didn’t work, but the second surgery, where they put screws in, proved successful, and I subsequently surprised the doctors with the length of my playing career.
TW: Have you had other injuries since high school?
CW: Yes, a partially dislocated left shoulder that has anchors planted to this day, left knee cartilage repair, abdominal strain, a broken pinky, ankle sprains, a stress fracture in the right tibia, and loose cartilage in my right knee.
TW: As these injuries came how did you treat them?
CW: In college, I treated with ice, steam therapies and strengthening exercises. When I reached the pro level, I treated my injuries with some anti-inflammatory drugs, rest, time off, and B12 injections.
TW: What became the most troubling or recurring symptoms?
CW: Most troubling were my knee joint pains, and I never seemed to find a way to really relieve the pain long term.
TW: How would you deal with the recurring knee pain and what sort of results were you getting?
CW: Strengthening exercises, anti-inflammatories, ice and steam, low-level laser, but the results were temporary at best until I changed my outlook on eating better and finding supplements to support my body’s health. That’s when I started seeing progress.
TW: Talk a little bit about what your diet was like before you connected nutrition to your health.
CW: As a young child I drank a lot of soda and ate a lot of homemade baked sweets. In college I ate fast food, junk food and very few vegetables. Early on in my professional career I ate white pasta, instant anything and sweets. Then for snacks on the road I ate Famous Amos cookies from the hotel honor bars.
TW: Sounds like you were eating a lot of foods that promoted inflammation rather than healing. So, what was the motivation to changing your diet to support your health and how did you go about doing it?
CW: In 1998 I was confronted with a career-ending knee injury where the doctor predicted knee replacement surgery if I continued to play. And at that time, a friend of mine introduced me to Dr. Gregory Clark who gave me hope that my knee injury didn’t have to always be like that if I changed my eating habits, drank a lot of water and took the right dietary supplements.
Through the years, with the counsel of Dr. Clark, my wife and my own research, I began to become more knowledgeable about how my body works. I got more into the right foods and proper supplementation to nourish my body to be able to perform at a high level. It helped that I had a wife who, although busy as a licensed attorney, has been passionate about health, nutrition and fitness for over 18 years and is a recent graduate of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. So, it was easy to make the changes because she was doing most of the cooking.
I started picking up more books in the health food stores, reading about different herbs and supplements that would help aid in joint repair and overall health. I also saw the importance of how food choices could play a big part in overall health and performance. In 1999 I was able to help the Knicks return to the NBA finals against the San Antonio Spurs. So I played six more years after that surgery due to a change of attitude about nutrition. My mindset over time has evolved so that I am now trying to help others.
TW: You mentioned that you began to support your healthy eating with supplements as you began learning about their importance. What kinds of supplements have you used to assist your body in rebuilding and supporting healthy cartilage, adding flexibility and mobility, reducing pain and increasing bone density for the injuries you have suffered in your knee and other parts of your body? And how have they worked?
CW: I’ve tried glucosamine, chondroitin, liquids and vitamin-based supplements, I’ve also tried lubricating my joints with cod liver oil. I’ve done B12 shots and I started doing cold laser therapy as well. Then a friend told me about CapraFlex™, which he described as a product for anyone concerned about maintaining healthy, flexible joints, muscles and bones, which got my ear. So we requested more information about the product.
What we found was that CapraFlex™ is a complete, comprehensive bone and joint health support formula. We read that CapraFlex™ contains over 20 naturally occurring minerals, naturally occurring glucosamine and chondroitin, and a blend of 17 different foods, botanicals and enzymes; that the ingredients assist mobility and flexibility; and that the enzymes and botanicals help ease pain and inflammation. After learning this I saw that it totally fell in line with the philosophy my wife and I follow regarding whole foods and supplements from natural sources.
Since I was still looking for lasting relief, it was definitely worth a try. So I started using CapraFlex™ about six months ago. Although I did get good results from most of the products and modalities I mentioned using, the one product that has given me prolonged results has been CapraFlex™.
TW: As a Holistic Health Counselor one of the things I adhere to is Hippocrates’ famous quote: “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine shall be thy food.” And what I think proves to be helpful with CapraFlex™ is that the glucosamine and chondroitin carrier in this product is a whole-food concentrate form of collagen, which provides maximum absorption. CapraFlex™ contains cartilage- and bone-building compounds, providing the body what it needs to increase bone density and also rebuild healthy cartilage and connective tissue. Additionally included are whole-food herbs and enzymes for pain associated with inflammation. With so many supplements on the market, the fact that its ingredients are a blend of foods, botanicals, enzymes and minerals makes it a unique blend that can be received by the body with ease.
So, tell us how CapraFlex™ has worked in your body, since you have tried similar products but none with the unique whole food-based blend that it has.
CW: Since I started using CapraFlex™, I have experienced a great reduction of swelling in my right knee, to the point where it’s basically nonexistent. Before, it was swelling off and on whenever I exercised. I would use a combination of the other supplements and therapies to get the swelling down and alleviate the pain, but like I said before, it worked, but was a temporary fix. Only since supplementing with CapraFlex™, even with strenuous exercise I don’t have any swelling. Before, swelling would come even with everyday movements like just walking. I was reluctant to exercise because of fear of pain and swelling, but that changed with CapraFlex™. During the first three months of supplementation, I took advanced dosages: three in the morning, three in the afternoon and three at night, either with warm water or Kombucha green tea. This gave me quick results.
Since I started using CapraFlex™, I have experienced a great reduction of swelling in my right knee, to the point where it’s basically nonexistent. Before, it was swelling off and on whenever I exercised. I would use a combination of the other supplements and therapies to get the swelling down and alleviate the pain, but like I said before, it worked, but was a temporary fix. Only now since supplementing with CapraFlex™, even with strenuous exercise I don’t have any swelling. Before, swelling would come even with everyday movements like just walking. I was reluctant to exercise because of fear of pain and swelling, but that changed with CapraFlex™.
TW: Do you still use CapraFlex™ as a part of your daily routine?
CW: Yes I do, three in the morning and three at night before bedtime. It has become a key component for me to move beyond simply alleviation of pain to a state of constant well-being. When the other products were a part of my daily supplementation, I was only able to work out once every three to four days due to repeated swelling. I had a difficult time working with the Rockets players because of the pain and stiffness in my knee. After the initial phase of advanced dosages of CapraFlex™, and now with CapraFlex™ as part of my daily regimen, I am able to play with them and work out with them to help them become better at what they do. I found CapraFlex™ to really work well for me.
TW: Has your family noticed this improvement in your health?
CW: Yes, CapraFlex™ has helped to improve my family life because I am able to play ball, run and jump with my children. They like for me to give them a double piggyback ride up and down the steps and fly them through the air, and now I can say yes every time and do it without any discomfort. The kids and my wife are all ecstatic because Daddy doesn’t have to put an ice pack on his knee after trying to walk up the steps, and my son doesn’t have to be frustrated that I can’t go outside and play baseball or basketball with him because I can’t move or need an ice pack. As an added bonus, now we don’t have to look only for one-story homes anymore, which was the case two years ago.
When you have good news you like to share it, so I have told all my family, friends and colleagues about CapraFlex™ and have even shared some of the product with them.
TW: What kind of feedback are you getting from them?
CW: One of my former teammates, Monty Williams who now coaches for the Portland Trailblazers, has bad knees too. I told him to try CapraFlex™ and he has benefited from it as well. Other friends who are both retired and current pro-athletes, as well as family members who I’ve introduced to CapraFlex™, have benefited with relief from everything ranging from back pain and knee pain to inflammatory arthritis. They are seeing some great results, but I know that the results would be even better if they were making better choices with their eating habits. So I am encouraging them to listen to their doctors and seek out some professional guidance from a health coach, nutritionist or dietician who can help them clean up their diets and really experience the full healing potential of CapraFlex™ that I am experiencing.
It has been exciting to see the effectiveness of CapraFlex™ up close and in person. We like it because it truly supports healing and wellness. In our practice at Choice: Wellness, one of the many things our clients learn is that wellness is more than the absence of sickness. It is a state of positive well-being. We want them to take their health to the next level and CapraFlex supports that. It relieves painful symptoms and aids in rebuilding and strengthening bones, cartilage and connective tissue, and increasing bone density.
We are especially comfortable with it because it comes backed by studies and recommended by doctors who have studied its efficacy and found it to be a complete, comprehensive bone and joint health support formula. Because it is a whole food nutritional, the body can get maximum absorption so that it can get to work in your body. This is important to me as a Holistic Health Counselor because my approach to healing and wellness is with whole foods. As Hippocrates, the father of the medicine, once said: “Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine shall be thy food.” So the combination of a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet and CapraFlex has proven to be good for us in achieving wellness.
Being married to a professional athlete has many blessings and also puts demands on both of us, but Charlie is responding to his body’s needs these days and the result has been pure marital bliss. I love seeing my husband with our children, once again able to do all of the physical playthings dads do with their children. In the future I hope to tell you more about our family’s health discoveries so that we might be able to help more and more people. After all, for both of us, staying healthy and helping others to stay healthy is what life is all about.
Keeping Charlie Healthy | by Tonja H Ward
Healthy Living cover story, volume 10.9
Reprinted with permission from: Prescription for Healthy Living Magazine