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“No secrets — it just takes hard work and a bit of luck!”, Dr. Alexis Colvin and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

General strategies that I would recommend for athletes of all abilities are incorporating appropriate recovery, including sleep and nutrition, and cross training to prevent injury or to recover from injury. Additionally, I would urge athletes to consider working with a sports psychologist or incorporating mental training — this is just as important as the physical training. As […]

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General strategies that I would recommend for athletes of all abilities are incorporating appropriate recovery, including sleep and nutrition, and cross training to prevent injury or to recover from injury. Additionally, I would urge athletes to consider working with a sports psychologist or incorporating mental training — this is just as important as the physical training.


As part of our series about “How Athletes Optimize Their Mind & Body For Peak Performance” I had the pleasure to interview Dr. Alexis Chiang Colvin

Dr. Alexis Chiang Colvin is a board certified orthopedic surgeon and member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, The American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy Association of North America and International Society for Hip Arthroscopy. Dr Colvin is the Chief Medical Officer for the US Open, the team physician for the US Fed Cup team and previously served as the Chief Medical Officer for the United States Tennis Association.

She is also a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Associate Dean for Alumni Affairs at Mount Sinai. A graduate of Princeton University, she received her medical degree from Mount Sinai and completed her orthopedic surgery residency at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. During her residency, Dr. Colvin was selected for one of the most prestigious Sports Medicine Fellowships in the country at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Colvin specializes in the surgical treatment of knee, shoulder, and hip disorders. She has authored numerous scientific publications and has presented both at national and international meetings on sports medicine and orthopedic surgery. Dr. Colvin has also served as a physician at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO.


Please provide a brief background of where you grew up and the trajectory of your professional career. Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine?

I have been fortunate to have a number of incredible mentors throughout my career but the two most important have been my parents. They were both immigrants who came to the U.S. for higher education and instilled in me the importance of education. They were definitely proud when I told them that I had been promoted to full professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine!

As an undergraduate at Princeton University, I gained early acceptance through a program called Humanities and Medicine (now called FlexMed) at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine which encouraged students from a variety of majors to become physicians. As an orthopedic surgeon, my educational path included 4 years of college, 4 years of medical school, 5 years of orthopedic surgery residency and 1 year of a fellowship in sports medicine. Throughout my career, I have benefited from the guidance of so many mentors and role models, not just in medicine but also in my role at the United States Tennis Association.

What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to follow in your footsteps and emulate your career?

No secrets — it just takes hard work and a bit of luck!

What interests you most about your job?

I have a number of different roles at the hospital and medical school, as well as with professional tennis. At the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, I am an attending physician at the hospital and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery as well as Associate Dean of Alumni Affairs for the medical school. I also serve as the Chief Medical Officer for the US Open and team physician for the US Fed Cup team. I truly enjoy different aspects of all of my roles and the different skills that are required of each position.

As an orthopedic surgeon, you face high pressure situations. Can you share with our readers 3 or 4 strategies that you use to optimize your mind for peak performance before high pressure, high stress situations? Do you use any special or particular breathing techniques to help optimize yourself? Do you have a special technique to develop a strong focus, and clear away distractions, such as meditation?

It’s a privilege to have a patient place trust in you to perform surgery. As I previously described, the training is long but learning does not stop at the end of school. Just like the athletes that I treat, I continue to “train” by staying up to date on advances in surgical techniques and best practices. Similarly, I go into the operating room (“the game”) prepared and with a plan….but I can also draw upon my years of experience and be flexible when I encounter something that does not go according to plan.

How do you advise athletes to optimize their body for peak performance?

General strategies that I would recommend for athletes of all abilities are incorporating appropriate recovery, including sleep and nutrition, and cross training to prevent injury or to recover from injury. Additionally, I would urge athletes to consider working with a sports psychologist or incorporating mental training — this is just as important as the physical training.

How do you see yourself making a positive impact on the world?

I wear several different hats professionally and my goals vary depending on each role. As a surgeon, it is incredibly gratifying to be able to reconstruct a torn ACL or repair a torn rotator cuff and help my patient return to activity. As an associate dean for alumni affairs, I enjoy being able to help build relationships between medical and graduate students and the alumni of my institution. As the Chief Medical Officer of the US Open and US Fed Cup team, I enjoy supporting a sport at the professional level that is also a lifelong recreational activity with health benefits. Most importantly, I am the mother to three boys (ages 10, 9, and 6) who I want to raise to make a positive impact on the world.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

I would love to be able to have a conversation with Michelle Obama. Not only because she is a fellow Princeton alum, but her “Let’s Move” initiative is very much aligned with my professional goal to encourage fun lifelong activity for children and promote healthy behaviors.

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