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In Shape For The Season

By Kathryn Feather

As the 2007 Major League Baseball season approaches the All Star break and the halfway mark, Little League players all over the country are fantasizing about playing in the World Series and thousands of adult fantasy league players are living their major league dreams as well - at least in a sense.

You know the dream; you probably had it yourself as a child. It's the bottom of the ninth, two outs and the bases are loaded. Your team is down by three runs. You step out of the dugout to the cheers of an adoring crowd. You take a couple of practice swings and step into the batter's box, digging in and giving the pitcher a confident glance. The pitcher goes into his windup, and here comes the pitch...

The rest of the dream takes on a hero quality as we picture ourselves taking a mighty cut and sending the ball soaring into the outfield seats. The crowd goes wild, chanting our name, as we enjoy our trot around the bases. We round third base to see our teammates huddled around home plate, waiting to mob us in celebration and lift us to their shoulders. Family, friends and fans alike see our heroics on the highlight reel of ESPN "SportsCenter" and we are forever remembered as the one who brought our team and our city the championship.

For most of us, this is just a fun daydream that carries over from childhood. But for New York Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon, this scene became a reality - more than once. Damon is in the middle of what arguably is a Hall of Fame career and has been the hero for more than one team. In 2004, he helped turn back the 86-year-old curse and bring a world championship to the long-overdue Boston Red Sox. He holds dozens of MLB records dating back to his rookie year with the Kansas City Royals in 1995. With the grind of a 162-game, physically demanding season, and a highlight reel of spectacular plays demonstrating a work ethic that requires giving everything in every at-bat and with every play, how does Damon keep his health intact?

"Without chiropractic, I wouldn't be able to play consistently throughout the season," Damon said in an exclusive interview with To Your Health. "I've been under the care of a chiropractor for eight years. I first went [to a chiropractor] because my body was really out of whack from the constant grind of a 162-game schedule. Initially, I admit that I was a little freaked out about the whole neck [adjustment] thing, but now, chiropractic is a must for me."

And Damon knows what it feels like to have a body "out of whack." In Game 5 of the 2003 American League Division Series, while Damon was with the Red Sox, he sustained a concussion when he collided with second baseman Damian Jackson as they pursued a 7th-inning fly ball hit by Jermaine Dye of the Oakland Athletics. Damon regained consciousness but continues to suffer the effects of that collision.

"I suffer from headaches about every 2-3 days, normally. When I use DiskForce [a spinal decompression machine utilized by some chiropractors], my headaches are gone for 2-3 weeks. It really takes care of the problem," Damon said. "I'm getting older, and older backs lock up. Last year, we had tons of back problems [on the Yankees]. There is no way we could get back and ready for another season without chiropractic."

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