There is no question that Ronnie Coleman is one of the greatest bodybuilders in history. With eight consecutive victories of Mr. Olympia to his name in the late 20th century and early 2000s (1998-2005), Coleman is tied for the most titles with fellow legend Lee Haney. Retirement didn’t always go well with the 58-year-old Coleman, however. Since he formally left professional bodybuilding in 2007, the icon has undergone a dozen surgeries on his neck and back. While Coleman has been on the mend of late, there is a chance he won’t be able to walk without the help of crutches. He seems to credit a rare, ongoing treatment for some recent progress.
On January 16, 2023, Coleman shared a video on his YouTube channel in which he discussed aspects of his recent health improvement in an interview with former bodybuilder and current media personality Giles Thomas. The conversation saw Coleman notice that he is leaning towards stem cell treatment/injectionswhich apparently gave him a cleaner bill of health.
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Coleman did not mention specifically what kind of stem cell injections he received, but it may be similar to the Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) that reign four-time Classic Physique Olympia champion Chris Bumstead revealed that he used in 2022. According to NPJ Regenerative MedicineMSCs “have broad anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory properties… [which] interact with their immediate environment and neighboring cells to elicit cell-based responses that may be therapeutic. ” (1)
Regarding the potential benefits of stem cell treatments, it is also important to note that research into their effectiveness is ongoing. While encouraging, stem cell methods need more light to determine if their benefits are valid. (2)
Coleman maintains that stem cell treatments help her manage chronic pain in her neck and back. These early injuries apparently occurred during his college football career with Grambling State University in the 1980s, before he became one of the faces of bodybuilding.
“My back injuries came from playing football,” Coleman said. “I was hurt [his back] My sophomore year was really bad, then my neck hurt a lot. I do a lot of chiropractic [treatments] my sophomore year of college until i started bodybuilding [in 1990].”
These days, Coleman said he maintains a fairly steady schedule of stem cell injections, traveling across the U.S. border to Mexico several times a year to help manage his back problems. and neck.
“Right now I’m trying to do it [stem cell injections] every four months, in Mexico,” said Coleman. “I started probably about a year ago and I went twice every four months and then I took about nine months off, and the pain came back really bad . I came back and that was the last time I went. I was in a lot of pain. Three days later, the pain was gone. It’s easy.”
In addition to his stem cell treatments, Coleman credits the use of experimental hyperbaric chambers to help with his pain management and recovery, especially a good night’s sleep. According to Medicine, hyperbaric oxygen therapy “consists of the use of pure oxygen at increased pressure (generally, 2-3 atmospheres) that leads to increased levels of oxygen in the blood (Hyperoxemia) and tissue (Hyperoxia),” which can improve the body’s healing processes. The same medical journal maintains that “further research” may be necessary to determine the exact benefits and side effects. (3)
When it comes to Coleman, hyperbaric chambers seem to work wonders as a complement to his other treatments so far.
“We’ll also do hyperbaric chamber sessions,” Coleman explained of his coordinated treatment routine. “We do two 45-minute sessions a day for, like, five days.”
With his health in a good place, it looks like Coleman is looking ahead to better, less painful retirement years. As a continued important influence in the bodybuilding community for stars and young risers alike, this update is definitely not the last we hear from the titan.
- Pittenger, MF, Discher, DE, Péault, BM, Phinney, DG, Hare, JM, & Caplan, AI (2019). Mesenchymal stem cell perspective: cell biology to clinical progress.NPJ Regenerative medicine,422.
- Chen J, Wang H, Lu X, Yang K, Lu C. Safety and efficacy of stem cell therapy: an overview protocol of published meta-analyses and evidence mapping. Ann Transl Med. 2021 Feb;9(3):270. doi: 10.21037/atm-20-6892. PMID: 33708897; PMCID: PMC7940926.
- Ortega, AM and others. (2021) An Overview of Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy: Applications, Mechanisms, and Translational Opportunities. Medicine. 2021 Sep; 57(9): 864. doi: 10.3390/medicina57090864. PMID: 34577787; PMCID: PMC8465921
Featured image: @ronniecoleman8 on Instagram
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