Dr. John Pietila

Enhancing the performance of the Fiorentina soccer players

Melinda Gallo
April 8, 2010

Florence is home to many expats: those who have longed to live here, those who have found love and moved here, and those who have come to Florence and felt immediately at home here. Many people arrive here at a point in their lives when they seek to redefine themselves: whether they were not completely happy, were searching for something new, or were looking for love, it seems that those who come to Florence are reborn. Florence will always be the ‘cradle of the Renaissance' for the art world, but it also welcomes people of all walks of life who are seeking to follow their hearts.



Sometimes things just fall into place without any effort at all. For Dr. John Pietila, moving to Florence wasn't even in his plans, yet when he was presented with the opportunity, he jumped at it.


A few years ago, at a conference in Amsterdam, he was teaching the ‘In-Balance Technique' (see Facebook for more information), which he invented. ‘In-Balance' is the first step in a three-part system for preventing and treating injuries. John determines the cause of the injury and works on that specific area to heal it quicker, as well as prevent future injury.


Immediately after his talk, he was ap-proached by a doctor for Florence's soccer team, the Fiorentina (www.violachannel.it) He told John that the Fiorentina needed his technique and wanted to know if he'd be interested in working with them. John responded nonchalantly that he'd be open to an offer. When he returned to the States, the offer was waiting for him. Because he had already been training one of his partners to take care of his clinic, and John and his wife, Leslie, didn't have any children, he felt it was the perfect time to take advantage of this opportunity to live abroad. Moreover, working for a group of athletes on a full-time basis would be a unique experience that he might not have in the United States.


John has been working for the Fiorentina since January 2009. He not only works on the injured Viola soccer players who don't go out onto the field for practice, but also checks the uninjured players before a game, to make sure they are ready to play. If necessary, before the match he ‘balances' them to enhance their performance, making sure the correct muscles fire at the right time. He sometimes treats athletes after the game to help them recover more quickly from the usual stresses and strains of playing.


The Fiorentina is the only team in the Italian soccer league to use John's revolutionary technique. The average rate of injury for soccer players is about 28 injuries per 1,000 hours of training. Since John has begun working with the Fiorentina, the number of injuries over the same amount of time is just four.


John's innovative technique is the result of a great deal of study. He earned a bachelors of science in biology from Bemidji State University, and after another four years of schooling received a chiropractic degree from Northwestern College of Chiropractic. After completing his studies, he wanted to learn more about applied kinesiology techniques, so he decided to study functional neurology at the Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies for three years. With all of his education, John became the first chiropractic neurologist in Minnesota, and he has recently become a fellow of the American College of Functional Neurology.


John is pleased with his work with the Fiorentina because he has a chance to get to know the players, to work with them and to watch them play to their fullest potential. Each time an injured player recovers and returns to play, it is a success not only for the Fiorentina but also for John.


In his free time, John also continues to teach his technique to other chiropractors around the world. He maintains that it can also be effectively used on many other imbalances of the nervous system, like learning disabilities.


Even though John didn't plan on coming to Florence for work, he enjoys it enough to say that he'd like to stay longer. In fact, he says he feels at home here because Florence's historical center has the feel of a small town, much like the one he comes from in Minnesota.


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