Perry asked the athlete, who was lying on his back, to raise one leg and then the other, and to "resist as much as you can" when Perry applied downward pressure. With more than a little effort, Perry forced each leg to the table. Then he lightly massaged his patient an inch above the navel, on the outer mid-thighs and on the inner mid-knees.
The athlete again was asked to raise one leg at a time and resist. Up went the left leg. Perry, a former high school wrestler who weighs 170, could not lower the leg until he applied so much pressure that both his feet were off the ground. The same was true when Perry pressed on the right leg.
"Did you feel any difference?" he asked.
"Yes," said the discus man. "I had much more strength."
In the final phase of the process, Perry massaged the patient at the base of his spine and on the middle of his thighs. This time when the athlete's legs were raised and resistance applied. Perry forced one leg and then the other to the table with two fingers.
It was this Muscle Reactive Testing that Wilkins received from Perry in 1976 before he broke the discus world record three times at the San Jose Invitational. But even Perry admits that "Muscle Reactive Testing is almost too theatrical. No one can explain how it works or why a person gets added strength from it for a short time. I use it mainly to show how little we understand about the body. I teach this and other techniques to some of my patients and give them specific exercise programs to build up their weak areas so they can prevent further problems." Doctors of chiropractic believe that educating the patient is one of the most important aspects of health care. Proper posture, exercise and nutrition are stressed.
"From the point of view of the athletes, Dr. Perry has made fantastic progress in both healing and prevention," says Dr. David Martin, an exercise physiologist and an associate professor of allied health sciences at Georgia State University. "Traditionally, the view of medicine has been remedial rather than preventive, but Dr. Perry is placing great emphasis on the latter. There are physicians who say, I don't understand what he's doing.' Because they don't understand all that Perry does, they knock him. But the truth is that some of those same doctors don't understand what other medical doctors are doing."
The petition requesting that Perry be made a member of the Sports Medicine Committee for the U.S. Olympic team in Moscow was not the first of its kind. In 1976 a similar petition had been signed by several hundred athletes and coaches before the Montreal Games. Dr. Anthony Daly of Inglewood, Calif., an orthopedist and one of the ranking members of the American medical squad for Montreal, had said shortly before the Games that "Perry's case is a dead issue. Our people were selected four or five months ago. It's mostly track and field athletes who are involved with Dr. Perry. If we were to add him, what about athletes in other sports with their own favorite doctors?"
Perry got to Montreal anyway—as the team doctor for the Antigua squad, an arrangement worked out by the team's coach, none other than Tracy Sundlun, who had been impressed by Perry back in '73 at La Jolla.
Hearing of Perry's presence and of the fact that he was treating other athletes, not just the tiny Antiguan squad, the U.S. medical staff ordered American athletes not to be treated by him.