Why Athletes Choose Chiropractic

Why Athletes Choose Chiropractic

Many amateur and professional athletes are sidelined with injuries that could be avoided, or problems that do not respond to ordinary treatment. Others are playing, but at less than peak performance, simply because their mechanical systems are dysfunctional. Chiropractic approach to health relates closely to the needs of the sports participant. Chiropractic is a natural health care method that stresses the importance of keeping all the systems of the body functioning efficiently so that the athlete enjoys peak performance, a minimum injury risk and fast recuperative ability.

Chiropractic is a healthcare profession focused on the diagnosis and treatment of neuromusculoskeletal conditions. The primary treatment of the chiropractor is manipulation of areas of the spine or surrounding joints, which are restricted in mobility and/or dysfunctional. The adjustment will help to restore proper mobility and function to the spinal and pelvic joints, helping to decrease pain and improve performance. Other treatment modalities used may include massage, electrotherapy, trigger point therapy, dry needling, strapping and rehabilitative exercise.
Injuries like sprains (ankle), strains (pulled muscles), tendonitis (tennis elbow) and bursitis (shoulder pain) and joint problems in the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, knee, ankle and foot can all be treated effectively with chiropractic care. The beauty of chiropractic is not only that it is drug-free and surgery-free, but also that it is preventative and performance-enhancing care. Maintaining proper alignment allows athletes to be prepared for their sports. Many of the greatest athletes in the world are adjusted as part of their ‘training’ regimen.


Frequently Asked Questions

Question : Can chiropractic help improve athletic performance?
Answer : Yes. In many cases, the doctor can also offer advice on safe, healthy ways to improve peak performance. A chiropractor’s training and experience with the dynamics of the human body qualifies him or her to diagnose and successfully treat a wide range of injuries and conditions.

Question : What can a chiropractor do for me if I’m having leg or knee pain?
Answer : These may indicate a spinal problem, pelvic imbalance, an inappropriate training programme, overuse injuries or stress conditions to soft tissues or bone. These conditions can often be effectively managed if the problem is identified early and appropriate treatment is followed. X-rays may also be required if certain types of pathology are suspected. Your training regimen and schedule may be reviewed, to see if there are any problem areas to correct. In addition to any chiropractic adjustments your doctor may perform, he or she may also recommend that you consult a podiatrist for orthotics and perform home rehabilitation exercises.

Question : What kind of exercises do I need to do at home (rehab)?
Answer : Injured soft tissue and muscles/joints can be strengthened with rehab exercises. An entire spectrum of these can be recommended by your chiropractor after an examination of your needs and condition. Many are very simple and can be done in a few minutes at home or at the office. You may also be referred to a biokineticist for a more comprehensive and intensive rehab programme.

Question : What can my chiropractor do to stop pain?
Answer : The treatment you receive will probably focus in general on reducing swelling, relieving pain, restoring functional movement through manipulation (adjustment), protecting the area from additional stress, and strengthening your foundation. Depending on your specific condition, your chiropractor may instruct you to do some or all of the following things after you leave the clinic:
REST – a decrease or stoppage of running and jumping exercises is often indicated
ICE – to help bring down any swelling
EXERCISE – to help build muscle strength and joint stability
STRETCHING – flexibility improves movement and function, helping to prevent injury or rehabilitate damaged muscles/ligaments/joints

Alan Robb

Alan Robb, Comrades Golden Boy

Say the name ‘Alan Robb’ to anyone in road running circles and the response will undoubtedly be one of the utmost respect and awe. 99% of responses will be a resounding, “the guy is a legend!”

Modern Athlete took this Living Legend to lunch recently, not only to find out what he is up to now but also to get him to tell us some of the secrets from his incredible 38-year career that could give modern athletes an advantage.

Alan is remarkably unassuming, a quiet man whose passion for participation shouts the loudest. Currently, he is running and preparing for yet another Comrades, his 36th. With the addition of both canoeing and mountain biking, it is clear that this man simply loves a challenge and has a built-in determination to conquer courses regardless of their landscape.
Over the period of his career, Alan beat many records and set many others, achieving several personal goals. With the mileage on his clock, he probably wouldn’t qualify for finance if he were a vehicle, but would fall under the vintage category as a genuine classic.

Once he has ordered his calamari, this Rocky’s veteran sits back and, with very little encouragement, takes me through his career. He is after all the leading gold medallist at the Comrades Marathon with a total of 12, something anyone would want to talk about. The incredible thing about this achievement is that he won the medals over a span of 17 years, the first in 1974 and last in 1991.

The highlight for him was winning the 1978 Comrades. “I was the first guy to crack 5:30. It was a great feeling. Back then, the Comrades was the pinnacle for road runners; it really was the Holy Grail in which every long-distance road runner aspired to be successful. There was a healthy rivalry!”

So who does this master claim is his biggest challenger throughout his career? “To be honest, I mainly raced myself and the course. There were many battles on the way, but most notably I would have to say Bruce (Fordyce). He was just starting as I was winding down, so we didn’t compete as often as I would have liked. The ’82 Comrades against Bruce was a good race!” remembers Alan. It is interesting to note that there is one record Alan will always hold over Bruce, as they are both now in the twilight of their careers. Fordyce is one short in the gold medal race; he has 11.

It seems as though personal pride was the pay packet back ‘in the day’. Even though you couldn’t pay your bond with it, it sure was a big motivator. Is Alan resentful that his generation seemed to miss out on the money associated with modern road running? “Not at all”, he stresses, however he is quick to mention that, “The guy who finished second in Two Oceans got R75K. In 1976, I finished second and I got a tog bag!” Alan’s big cash payday was R300 for a local marathon. For interest’s sake, we did the comparison of what Alan would have won in today’s prize pool for his 12 Top Ten finishes at  Comrades. It looks like Mr Robb would have earned some change and then some!

Moving away from the topic of Comrades, I found out a little bit about the man behind the red socks. Everyone knows about Alan’s famous red socks, but where did they come from? Well, he was in a hurry to get to a race one day and couldn’t find any white socks, so he raided his dad’s drawer and came up with a red pair. His mates chirped him on the road that day and in true Robb style, he decided to keep wearing them.

His passion for sport shone through from when he was young. He attended Highlands North High School and was predominantly a swimmer. He only really began to show an interest in running in the army and ended up running for the defence force. His first competitive race was in January 1974. It was a 32km from the Johannesburg City Hall to Krugersdorp and, maybe not surprisingly, he won it in a course record time of 1:49.

On the family side, Alan’s wife Merle, his pillar of support, has been with him for 30 years. He has also made many good friends on the road over the years and speaks fondly of Danie Oosthuizen and Charlie Chase from his days at Germiston Callies. Ken Kerr, Dave Pritchard and regular weekend running partner Pete Hurry are amongst those who have left an impression.

When questioned whether he has a race plan, he casually replies, “Not really. I’ll just go out to win and run my own race. Once you are the favourite for a race, most other runners sit with you to see what you are going to do, which allows you to then control the pace.” His favourite race was the old Milo Korkie from Pretoria to Johannesburg, which he won five times, breaking the record. He refers to the race as ’slow poison‘ indicating to us that this man can take pain better than most!

There are very few athletes with his longevity, experience and success in the sport, so we asked him if there is anything that he knows today that he would have liked to know 38 years ago. His answer is an emphatic, “No, just go out and run, speak to a lot of people and get different ideas; try them and see what suits you best.”

In Alan’s opinion, the sport has not changed much over the years. “Well, maybe the training has changed, but let’s be honest, man has been running for centuries. It’s not that complex. The way I see it is that besides the leading groups, the times are actually getting slower and the average age of the leading groups is older,” explains Alan. “At the Old Eds 8km time trial in my day, the top 20 all ran under 27 minutes. Today, most top 20 times are just under 30 minutes. It is a great sport and should not be messed with too much, from the professionals to the novices. There is a great atmosphere on the road and once the bug bites, you can never leave it!”

On nutrition, Alan says he enjoys a good steak, egg and chips before a race. “In the early days, there were no additional supplements on the road. You had Coke and water and you ran!” He didn’t really have much of a recovery period after the Comrades either. He would move straight into the cross-country season, 12km events from May to August with the Callies team and then back on the road by 4 September for the annual Gold Reef Marathon from Johannesburg to Brakpan. Alan would do three to four quality sessions a week, which included track speed work, hill repeats at the Top Star drive-in and regular time trials. He would then add a 25km run on Saturdays and anywhere between 30km to 70km on a Sunday. These days, he says there are only regular 12km runs around the country club.

Like most South African sportsmen of his generation, his biggest regret is not having had the opportunity to compete at an international level more often. He remembers running on the ‘wrong side of the road’ in UK events, most notably the London to Brighton. “We had some great runners back then and could have cleaned up overseas,” laments Alan. These experiences, however, have not dampened the joy with which he looks back at his years of running. “I have been extremely fortunate. I have been fairly good at something I love and while I have had injuries, there has been nothing that has kept me out of action for too long. I have enjoyed the experience and made a lot of friends on the road. I have had a career-long sponsorship from ASICS – those guys were and still are fantastic towards me!”

A good runner needs good-quality equipment and Alan swears by his ASICS trainers. “They are making some great footwear and they tailor-make shoes for any kind of runner. Despite all the advances of technology, I fondly remember my old ‘Tigers’ as a 25-year old. They were the perfect shoes, uncomplicated and comfortable!”

So what does the future hold for a man with Alan Robb’s record? What is there left to achieve? In my opinion, with 35 Comrades runs and well over 300 000km on the clock, he could be forgiven for wanting to hang up his takkies and call it a day. But Alan is aiming for silver number 18 at Comrades this year. He has bet a friend that he can still run silver. He reckons it’s touch-and-go at the moment. One thing is for sure, he will give it his best shot! He recently put himself to the test over 8km. He says it’s been about 15 years since he last did a time trial, and though his time of 33:45 is a far cry from his PB of 24:15, it’s not bad for a 55-year old (even though he mentions he had spit, snot and sweat coming out of everywhere). “I will continue to take it one year at a time and see how I feel; there are no plans to stop running. If I can stay injury free, I would like to do 40 Comrades.”

Hear the Jaguars roar!

Trail Toes

The new shoe is
named after Spyridon Louis, the Greek shepherd who won the marathon in the first
modern Olympics in 1896 in Athens, run mostly on gravel roads and basic trails.
Like the Olympic champion, these shoes are built for the rough, with the most
aggressive tread yet seen on a Vibram FiveFingers model.


The shoe comes in two versions, the Spyridon and
Spyridon LS, with identical outsoles, but the LS upper has a quick-fit
speed-lacing system instead of a Velcro strap fastener, and the upper is
thicker, with leather overlays that provide a bit more structure to the fit. I
tested the LS, and found that it provides the same ‘barefoot’ minimalist feel
of other FiveFingers models, thus also promoting forefoot running, but the
lugged outsole gripped the gravel roads and trails much better than the road
models I previously tested. The square-shaped cleats are raised in different directions
to provide traction on loose surfaces, and I found they really stuck!


More importantly for me, with my admittedly baby-soft
feet, was the support provided by the moulded nylon mesh ‘rock block’ insert in
the arch. I stood on a few tree roots and stones during my run, and while I
still felt them, I came out of it in much better shape than I thought I would, without
the flexibility of the shoe being reduced.


In past
tests, I found it hard to get my feet into the versions with a one-piece
stretch upper, because the tops of my feet are slightly raised, so I had to opt
for a laced version that I could open up a bit. The Spyridon, being a trail
shoe, also has a one-piece upper to keep grit out, but I could still get my
feet in fairly easily thanks to the speed-lace fastener that allowed just
enough play. Even better, when I put on a pair of Injinji toe-socks – with the
same five-toe design as the Vibram shoes – my feet just glided into the shoes,
and I really enjoyed the smoother ride, given that my feet are not used to
running without socks.

from leading retailers nationwide – check out the store locator on
www.vibramfivefingers.co.za. Recommended selling prices: R1499 for the
Spyridon, R1599 for the Spyridon LS. Men’s and women’s sizes available. Injinji
Socks range from R99 – R180 depending on the style.