From their record-breaking athletic performances to their washboard abs, everything about professional athletes seems superhuman.
But they are far from exempt from injury, as the nature of elite sport requires each individual to push their bodies to the limit.
As athletes don’t always have the luxury of time to recover from their niggles and strains, it is safe to say we have seen some unorthodox methods used to speed up their recovery processes.
Diego Costa revealed that he used horse placenta massages and electroshocks for recovery
The treatment meant that the striker would be fit to play in the 2014 Champions League final
Diego Costa is the latest athlete to admit to some weird and wonderful treatments that helped him get back on the pitch during his time at Atletico Madrid.
He has admitted that he had a massage with horse placenta and electroshocks as he attempted to be fit for the Champions League final in 2014.
Costa had been struggling with a hamstring injury in the build-up to the game against rivals Real Madrid, which was held in Lisbon.
To play in the final, the striker underwent ‘tough and very painful’ treatment.
Speaking of his therapy session, he said: ‘They were two-hour sessions. It was tough and very painful, so much that when I ran after, I didn’t feel any pain.’
But Costa is far from alone in experiencing such strange treatments. Check this lot out.
Paula Radcliffe: Emu Oil
Marathon runner Paula Radcliffe once used emu oil to speed up her recovery after colliding with a cyclist during a training run in New Mexico, which left her with a dislocated jaw, whiplash, injuries to her shoulders, knees and hip as well as an abundance of cuts and bruises.
On the recommendation of her physiotherapist Gerard Hartmann, Radcliffe attended to her wounds with an Aboriginal cure that is reported to have profound healing abilities.
Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine, told the BBC that emu oil helps heal minds as much as cuts.
‘Sportspeople are very sensitive people, and if they have a belief that a remedy helps them, then as long as it does not have any adverse side effects, that is a benefit in itself.’
Marathon runner Paula Radcliffe used emu oil as a method to speed up her recovery
Felix Magath: Cheese, alcohol and love
Ex-Fulham defender Brede Hangeland claimed that his former manager, Felix Magath, told him to put cheese on his thigh to nurse an injury.
Hangeland told BBC radio 5 Live that Magath had encouraged him to soak the cheese in alcohol and call his mother as he waited for the method to work its magic.
‘He (Magath) said mix the cheese with alcohol and put it on your dead leg overnight, and very importantly, just before you go to bed, you have to call your mum,’ Hangeland said.
‘The cheese, the alcohol and the biological reaction of the love that you feel when you call your mother will heal your leg.’
Former Cottagers manager, Felix Magath, told Brede Hangeland to put cheese on his injury
Hangeland said he was told to soak the cheese in alcohol and call his mother to cure his injury
Louis Saha: Leeches
Louis Saha endured an injury-plagued career but once revealed he applied leeches to an injured area as a form of treatment.
Saha, who returned from injury and came off the bench in the second half during Everton’s 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in 2010, explained the benefits of the blood-suckers.
‘How did I treat my swollen knees? You’re never going to believe how I treated my swollen knees. I went to visit my grandparents, who live in Guadeloupe, and I put leeches on my knees,’ said the former Manchester United and France striker.
Louis Saha, pictured last year, applied leeches to his knees as a form of treatment
‘Since then, I have had a knee that is not normal, but given what happened before to my ligaments I have to accept it. It swells up less, and I feel fine now.
‘I’m well prepared both mentally and physically. I have the legs and hunger of a 20-year-old.
Leeches are currently farmed for medicinal purposes in the UK with a series of clinics dotted around the country.
As to their benefit? Leeches may be used to help improve blood flow in an area of tissue or skin flap that has poor blood circulation.
Robin van Persie: Horse placenta
Robin van Persie ruptured his ankle ligaments in 2009 and flew out to Belgrade to meet Serbian housewife, Mariana Kovacevic, who treated him by rubbing his leg with fluid from a horse’s placenta.
Premier League players appear to be big fans of Kovacevic’s work in Belgrade as Glen Johnson and Fabio Aurelio were also linked with treatment from the Serbian.
Kovacevic charged £3,000 for a treatment that involved rubbing the fluids of a horses placenta into damaged muscles.
It is said that the placenta is rich in proteins and iron as well as a host of other vital nutrients and aids the healing of muscles.
Robin van Persie ruptured his ankle ligaments in 2009 and used horse placenta to recover
Darius Vassell: Drilling
Former Aston Villa and Manchester City striker Darius Vassell attempted to relieve the pain of an infected toe by drilling a hole through his toenail to relieve the pressure from the blister underneath.
However, it did not quite go to plan, and the consequences saw Vassell missing a few vital matches in Aston Villa’s season.
The then Aston Villa manager Graham Taylor was not particularly impressed with Vassell’s decision. He said: ‘He really shouldn’t have been trying to sort the problem out himself. There are people on the staff readily available to have treated the problem.
Darius Vassell tried to relieve the pain of an infected toe by drilling a hole through his toenail
‘Darius tried to get the blood out himself, which he now realises was not really advisable.’
In 2018, he told Sky Sports: ‘I attempted some DIY. It wasn’t with a Black and Decker drill as has been described on the internet.
‘When you’ve got blood under the nail, you need to get into that to relieve the pressure. Unfortunately, with me, anything that was touching that nail was excruciating so I attempted to do it myself at home, but I couldn’t do it because just touching the nail was painful.’
Anthony Joshua: Cupping
Anthony Joshua has previously shared pictures of himself undergoing cupping – a form of alternative medicine where glass cups are placed onto the skin to create suction and increase blood flow.
Taking to Instagram in 2015, Joshua captioned a picture of his treatment: ‘Perfect way to start the day. Good food followed by a deep tissue massage – intense stretch & cupping to finish the healing process. I’m trying to stay ahead of the competition one way or another.’
Anthony Joshua posted this picture of himself undergoing cupping treatment to Instagram
Glenn Hoddle: Faith healing
Glenn Hoddle was known for going off the beaten track for treatment, having his own faith healer, Eileen Drewery.
The former Tottenham midfielder said that Drewery’s treatment helped him recover from various injuries over his playing career.
Drewery was later hired in 1998 as a consultant for the England team during their World Cup campaign, a cause of huge controversy and a move from which his reputation as a manager never fully recovered.
Glenn Hoddle used a faith healer and says she helped him recover from various injuries
Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt has often courted controversy with his methods.
He claims that a substance called Hyalart, which is extracted from the crest of cockerels, helps lubricate knee injuries and take away pain.
He also swears by Actovegin, an amino acid preparation derived from calves’ blood.
In 2009, he prescribed more than 50 injections of goat’s blood to St Johnstone striker Peter MacDonald for his hamstring injury.
Among those to have been treated by him are Ronaldo, Usain Bolt, Michael Owen and Jose Maria Olazabal.
Muller-Wohlfahrt claims to have administered more than one million injections, at least half of which have been to athletes.
Peter MacDonald and Usain Bolt: Goat’s blood
The Bayern Munich doctor Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt, who has served the club for almost 40 years, approached Peter MacDonald to help him recover from an injury.
The unorthodox doctor prescribed more than 50 goat’s blood injections to the St Johnstone attacker to help speed up the healing process.
The striker explained: ‘The specialist said my hamstring was too tight and I had goat’s blood injections. That’s the best for loosening it off.’
Usain Bolt also sought the help of Muller-Wohlfahrt in the weeks leading up to both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
Bolt credits Muller-Wohlfahrt for getting him fit to win a gold medal in the 100metres in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
Muller-Wohlfahrt recalls the memory in his autobiography, saying: ‘We only had three days.
‘I only landed in Rio on the Thursday and Usain had to run the final on the Sunday. But I had a good feeling during the treatment, sensing every injection was applied precisely and to the point.’
After the treatment, Bolt went on to win Olympic gold. Muller-Wohlfahrt said: ‘He presented me with his famous golden shoes with which he broke the [100m] world record in 2009.
Muller-Wohlfahrt also claimed Bolt wanted to give him his Olympic gold medal from Rio, but insisted that Bolt kept it. He said: ‘Keep your medal, you won it all on your own.’
Usain Bolt received goat blood injections hours before winning gold in the 100m final at Rio
Jamie Redknapp: Cockerels
Muller-Wohlfahrt also helped Jamie Redknapp recover from injuries during his career.
His most notable method was the use of an extract from the crest of a cockerel called hylart, which it is claimed can help to lubricate knee injuries and take away pain.
Speaking previously with Sportsmail, Redknapp said: ‘He said that the fluid taken from a hen’s comb would lubricate the knee and allow greater movement. I was happy to do what he suggested to have the confidence to play again.’
Michael Owen, Jurgen Klinsmann and Arjen Robben are just some of the other high-profile clients that used this method by Muller-Wohlfahrt
Jamie Redknapp used an extract from the crest of a cockerel to help to lubricate knee injuries
James Michael McAdoo: Electric shocks to the brain
In 2016, James Michael McAdoo, the power forward for the Golden State Warriors, used a technique known as transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) to send electric shocks into the brain via some special headphones.
The basketballer tweeted a picture of himself receiving treatment in one of the club training rooms as he sported over-the-ear headphones.
Looking at him smiling, you’d never know that incorporated into the headphones is a miniature fakir’s bed of soft plastic spikes that would press gently into the skull and delivering pulses of electric current to the brain.
The company behind the gadget, Halo Neuroscience, claims that by targeting these shocks into the brain’s motor cortex, there is a boost towards increased strength-training and skill-learning abilities.
James Michael McAdoo wore special headphones that gave his brain electric shocks
Florent Malouda: Removing wisdom teeth
Having experienced a poor first season with Chelsea in 2007, Florent Malouda complained that it was his wisdom teeth that caused his underwhelming campaign.
Malouda said the pain in his wisdom teeth was having a draining psychological effect on him and even caused a physical imbalance.
The former French international proceeded to have his wisdom teeth removed and went on to have a highly credible career at the club.
An Australian rugby union star, Rod Davies, and former Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas followed suit. Fabregas had his wisdom teeth removed to try and solve persistent hamstring injuries in 2010.
Malouda removed his wisdom teeth, saying they were the cause his lacklustre performances
Tom Preston: Steak remedy
Lancaster City’s Tom Preston took a knock to the ankle during training and sought the advice of the team physio. Except the youngster accidentally texted his team-mate Rob Wilson instead.
Wilson took advantage of Preston’s mistake, changing his WhatsApp name and image to that of physio Neil Coomber. Wilson told to treat his ankle wrapping it in a sirloin steak for 10 minutes.
Wilson encouraged Preston to send him photographic evidence of him doing his ‘rehab’ and outed the youngster on Twitter, resulting in plenty of laughs for the Lancaster City team.