Aaron Rodgers takes his health extremely seriously as a professional athlete nearing his 40s.
The New York Jets quarterback has made diet and lifestyle changes to stretch his longevity on the field.
Some of his choices, like refusing the COVID-19 vaccine or taking ayahuasca, have been scrutinized.
Aaron Rodgers has gone all-in on his health and wellness.
The 39-year-old quarterback — who won a Super Bowl and four MVP awards with the Green Bay Packers before joining the New York Jets in 2023 — has made many diet and lifestyle changes in an effort to increase his longevity on the gridiron. But not all of his health choices are considered conventional, and several have prompted confusion and outrage from the general public.
Check out 10 of Rodgers' moves in the health and wellness arena — from the merely zany to the downright pseudoscientific.
Aaron Rodgers swears by chiropractic treatment — including the Graston technique.
Many of us are familiar with chiropractics, which involves the manipulation of muscles, joints, and connective tissues — particularly around the spine — to treat or prevent issues within the musculoskeletal system. Rodgers' father is a chiropractor and, like many other top-level athletes, the QB works with a chiropractor to stay in game shape week after week
But Rodgers and his chiropractor use a relatively novel procedure — the Graston technique — to work out his kinks throughout the season, according to Men's Health. A form of myofascial release therapy backed by research, the Graston technique involves the use of stainless steel tools to find and work through abnormal, scar-like soft tissue throughout the body.
He also turns to traditional massage, cupping, dry needling, and acupuncture for recovery.
Rodgers leans on other methods of release and recovery after training and competition, as he told Gear Patrol. Regular massages are frequently part of his rotation. So is acupuncture, or the use of strategically placed needles in the skin to stimulate the central nervous system, per Johns Hopkins Medicine.
The 10-time Pro Bowler also turns to dry needling, the insertion of a needle into a tight or hurting muscle to promote its contraction, to aid in his recovery. Cupping — which involves the use of specialized suction cups on the skin to promote blood flow — helps Rodgers decrease pain and inflammation.
Rodgers once had a hyperbaric chamber in his home.
According to the Mayo Clinic, hyperbaric oxygen therapy — which is administered through a hyperbaric chamber — promotes healing by delivering pressurized, pure oxygen to the lungs. Rodgers swears by the treatment, so much so that he had his own hyperbaric chamber at his house.
Yes, you read that correctly; he had a hyperbaric chamber, but has since lost it. He told Men's Health he believed the tool was a gift, but one of his exes took it with her after their split.
After each game, he lays out on his BioMat and enjoys an adult beverage.
Rodgers owns a BioMat that he uses regularly. According to the company's website, the BioMat emits infrared heat and negative ions — both of which promote healing in the body — and is made of "amethyst and crystal infused fabrics" to help amplify those effects.
The BioMat is FDA approved for temporary relief from muscle and joint pain. While studies show that infrared heat can help stimulate healing, the efficacy of the BioMat itself remains unclear.
Rodgers told Men's Health that he splays out on his BioMat after every game he plays. Usually, he pairs the recovery period with a glass of Scotch to help himself wind down from his heightened state.
Rodgers has increasingly restricted his diet as his career has progressed.
Once known to love a good milkshake, Rodgers cut out all dairy from his diet to limit pain after suffering an injury in 2015.
"I decided just to cut out dairy from that point," he told Sports Illustrated. "I'm intolerant to it, my body just doesn't enjoy it, my bowels especially."
But he didn't stop with just his beloved milkshakes. The then-Green Bay Packer also swore off gluten, which "changed the way my joints respond" and "changed the way my skin and body respond."
"I don't feel bloated all the time," Rodgers said on the Pat McAfee Show. "I don't feel kind of slow and foggy."
Instead, he eats a vegan-like diet but adds in doses of chicken and some red meats, he told ESPN's Rob Demovsky in 2016. Rodgers added that he follows an "80/20" model — 80% of his meals are healthy while the other 20% offers him wiggle room to indulge his notorious sweet tooth or drink Scotch after games.
The four-time MVP no longer relies on caffeine for energy. He'll drink green tea drink and coffee on occasion — as a treat — but prefers to avoid dependence on beverages to stay awake.
"I found myself having energy throughout the day, rather than going through the roller-coaster effects of caffeine," Rodgers said.
He's concerned about how football could impact his brain, and has taken a variety of steps to keep his mind sharp.
With the very real threat of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) looming from repeated hits on the football field, Rodgers has taken great care to exercise his mind in addition to his emphasis on physical fitness. He told Men's Health he'll do "silly things" to keep his brain sharp, and further detailed such efforts to the Green Bay Press Gazette.
"I've had a number of concussions and you worry about your future brain functions," Rodgers said. "And I feel like doing crosswords, doing Sudoku, doing KenKen" — a math-based puzzle game — "watching 'Jeopardy,' brushing your teeth with a different hand, tying your shoes in different orders, there's a lot of different things that you can do to stay sharp mentally, and I think that's one of them, crosswords."
Rodgers is also firm believer in the interconnectedness of mental and physical health. He told YouTuber and holistic health advocate Aubrey Marcus that he thinks "things like fear and stress and damage to the nervous system sticks in our body; there's places of bound-up energy that are directly related to stresses or traumatic events in our body."
He combats such damage with meditation, though he insists that meditation doesn't have to fit the stereotypical picture of having "to go in some sort of trance and start om-ing or whatever," as he told Men's Health. Simple, mindless tasks — for Rodgers, washing dishes — can offer similar benefits.
"It's one of my favorite activities in the world," he said. "... I feel like I can go into a meditative space doing the dishes. I can also get it with an instrumental soundtrack going on, just sitting on my couch in the sunroom, without my phone on, just my eyes closed."
"Then I can also go into it, you know, practicing some Transcendental Meditation," he added. "It's really just about how I can calm my mind so it's not racing."
Months after telling the press he'd been "immunized" against COVID-19, Rodgers admitted he was unvaccinated and instead turned to alternative treatments.
When asked if he had been vaccinated against COVID-19 in August 2021, Rodgers responded "Yeah, I've been immunized." But three months later, when he contracted COVID-19 at the height of the season, Rodgers was forced to follow NFL protocols for unvaccinated players, thereby unveiling his unvaccinated status to the public.
Subsequent reporting revealed that the superstar QB had petitioned the NFL to count his alternative treatment as being fully vaccinated, but the league rejected his bid. Nearly a year later, he said on "The Joe Rogan Experience" that the alternative treatment he received involved taking a "diluted strand" of the virus orally for several months.
When he had the virus in November 2021, Rodgers told sports analyst Pat McAfee he felt "pretty incredible" after "taking monoclonal antibodies, ivermectin, zinc, vitamin C, D, and HCQ [hydroxychloroquine]." Ivermectin — which is often used as a dewormer for horses — has been championed as COVID-19 miracle treatments by vaccine skeptics, but public health authorities have warned the public against its use for COVID-19 prevention or treatment.
"I consulted with a now good friend of mine Joe Rogan, after he got Covid, and I've been doing a lot of stuff that he recommended," Rodgers said.
Rogan, a controversial podcast host, has come under fire for his advocacy of discredited COVID-19 treatments. But that didn't dissuade Rodgers from embracing his advice.
The California native has criticized "the hyper-targeted, symptom-driven approach of Western medicine" and instead leaned into "Chinese herbs, acupuncture, and other elements of the Eastern philosophy of health and wellness, which for thousands of years has been used to treat the whole body and mind," as he told Men's Health.
Such comments — plus his refusal to get the COVID-19 jab — prompted one of Rodgers' health partners to cut ties with the then-Packers star.
"Medicine is not a one-size-fits-all," he told Aubrey Marcus during an appearance on his podcast in August 2022.
The quarterback has turned to hallucinogens like ayahuasca for clarity.
Rodgers said in a podcast interview hosted by Marcus that taking ayahuasca, an ancient hallucinogenic plant-based drink, allowed him "see how to unconditionally love" himself. He added that it led him to "the best season" of his career in 2021.
"There's a lot of trust," Rodgers told Men's Health of the process of sitting for an ayahuasca trip. "And surrender, I think, is another good word. You have to surrender to the master plant teacher that is ayahuasca, and there's naturally some fear around that. And when you do, some pretty incredible things can happen, as was evidenced by night two of my most recent journey."
"Night one I was still a little resistant, and night two, I fully surrendered to the process and to the master teacher, and she was benevolent in her lessons," he added. "There's a lot of overall happiness that exists when you have a deeper love for yourself. It actually allows you, I feel, to give and receive love better and interact with people with less judgment and less projection. So that's one thing I've really been working on."
Indigenous tribes have used ayahuasca, a psychedelic drug, in spiritual medicine practices for thousands of years. But retreats have gained traction in recent years as people search for spiritual enlightenment or relief for mental and physical health issues.
Mounting research suggests psychedelics have potential for treating mental health diagnoses including depression and PTSD that has not responded to other treatments. But more research is necessary before the drugs enter the mainstream, and trying ayahuasca can be risky if not done under the counsel of a doctor or experienced shaman.
But Rodgers insists that his experiences with hallucinogens have helped him transcend his fears of underachievement and death.
"I definitely had a fear of death, and ayahuasca and psilocybin actually really helped me with that and [alleviated] a lot of the stress around the idea of needing to accomplish things before I actually die, and taking away some of that fear," Rodgers told McAfee. "I think when you've seen the other side it makes the idea of death more of a passage and less of an ending. More of kind of the next chapter of life."
Rodgers spent four days at a darkness retreat in 2023 to "figure out where I'm at in my life."
Rodgers has no trouble dealing with the pressure of performing under the bright lights. But in 2023, when facing a choice of if and where to continue his illustrious football career, he opted for total darkness.
The quarterback spent four days isolated in the pitch black of an Oregon cave in hopes of finding "a better headspace" and "a greater peace in my life." Though he told McAfee that if it became "too much" he would just walk out since the door was not locked, it sounds like Rodgers spent the full 96 hours in the dark.
—Front Office Sports (@FOS) February 23, 2023
"I think we all could use a dose of turning our phone off once in a while, unplugging from society," Rodgers told McAfee. "Some people don't want to do a few days and nights in darkness. That's fine ... I've done many meditation retreats, yoga retreats, things that have stimulated my mind."
After rupturing his Achilles during his very first game with the New York Jets, Rodgers suggested that listening to dolphin sex noises could help speed up his recovery.
During the very first drive of his tenure with the New York Jets, Rodgers tore his left Achilles tendon while getting sacked by Buffalo Bills defensive end Leonard Floyd. He went under the knife days later for an innovative surgery he hopes will reduce his recovery time and, potentially, help him return to the field for this season's playoffs.
It seems he's willing to do whatever it take to rejoin his teammates on the gridiron, including partaking in cetacean voyeurism. Yes, that's right; Aaron Rodgers is prepared to listen in on dolphins having sex.
"Well, I didn't really want to mention this, but I'm looking into a number of different modalities," he said on The Pat McAfee Show in his first interview post-surgery. "There's ideas that some of the noises from the dolphins when they're love-making, the frequency of that is actually healing to the body."
"So I might be doing something with that," Rodgers added.
While some research suggests that dolphin sounds can be therapeutic for individuals with a range of mental and developmental disorders in humans, no reliable sources have indicated that such noises can help heal soft tissue injuries such as a ruptured Achilles.
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