In on the Action

Just before the London Olympic Games, Jonathan Mulholland ’96 was anxious. One of the riders on the New Zealand cycling team, for which he was the team’s chiropractic doctor, had crashed hard during a practice run in Spain.

The rider suffered severe bruising on his stomach, hips, and legs, as well as extensive road rash. “He could barely walk around,” Mulholland recalls. “I spent a week-and-a-half wondering if he was going to be able to ride at the games. It was a little too close for my comfort level, but we stuck with the guy, and he competed.”

The New Zealand pursuit squad went on to win the bronze medal. Patching up and healing elite athletes is all in a day’s work for Mulholland, who has also treated members of the American bobsled and skeleton teams. His professional involvement stokes his competitive zeal.

To Mulholland, the lure of his job traces back to his physically active youth. He still holds the Ithaca College record for the indoor hurdles, and these days he competes in triathlons. Working with other athletes keeps his competitive juices flowing, and he doesn’t want to be stuck in an office.

“I work with everyone from Olympians to young kids who have sore legs from playing soccer year round to college students and weekend warriors,” he adds. “Because most injuries are of the overuse variety, my job is to give them regular treatments, so they can withstand the stresses of training.”

After graduating magna cum laude with an exercise science degree from Ithaca College, Mulholland earned his doctor of chiropractic from the Northwestern College of Chiropractic in Minnesota. He ran a pair of practices in Plattsburgh for a decade and then served as chief of staff at Northwestern Health Sciences University.

A year later, he returned to Plattsburgh, where he reopened an office and lives with his wife, Kathy, and the couple’s two children, Ethan and Delaney.

The chiropractor and strength and conditioning specialist is hands-on when it comes to tending the muscles and joints of elite athletes and novices alike. Mulholland uses Graston tools, specialized stainless steel instruments, to dig into muscles and break up scar tissue. The treatment is intended to shorten recovery times after competitions. The sometimes painful procedure also helps improve athletes’ range of motion and their ability to produce power, Mulholland says. “They’re more than willing to suffer for 5 or 10 minutes of treatment, especially if they can gain a few hundredths of a second on their starts.

He’s careful to avoid cheering for the athletes under his care: “It’s my job to stay calm and to bring them a level of calm, but it’s a bit of a fight for me to manage that sometimes.”

For now, Mulholland continues to pitch his skills to athletes around the world—he’s worked in 15 countries to date. He also dispenses injury prevention and nutrition tips from a new website. He has one dream in particular. “I’d love to work a Tour de France,” he says. “It’s on my professional bucket list.”