Bok conditioning let Schalk down

A conditioning and rehabilitation practitioner specialising in neck injuries believes the injury suffered by Schalk Burger was inevitable.

“Having treated many rugby players, I am aware of the signs,” the specialist, who preferred to remain anonymous, told keo.co.za. “I have noticed Schalk’s posture and the way his neck shakes when he runs on a rugby field. This shaking is caused by his overdominant trapezius and over-developed scalene muscles in the shoulder area. One big collision and he was bound to end up with such an injury.”

The specialist elaborated on how a poor Bok conditioning programme could be responsible for such an injury, as it is not specific enough. Injuries like these are avoidable with the right training.

“I’ve practiced both in South Africa and overseas, and so have had the chance to work with plenty of rugby players and other sportspeople. From what I’ve heard from other leading experts in my field, England, Australia and New Zealand are light years ahead of us in terms of ensuring their players are conditioned properly.

“The difference between our players and theirs is that they are conditioned to be athletes, whereas our players are conditioned to be bodybuilders. Ours is the wrong kind of conditioning for a rugby player,” he said.

The specialist also agreed with the opinion that a neck fusion operation could do more harm than good to the 23-year-old Burger, whose career hangs in the balance.

“There are other ways to rehabilitate the injury Schalk has suffered. A spinal fusion can limit your neck movements by 50%, and how can you play rugby like that? It can hinder your movement and rotation of the head, which obviously limits your peripheral vision.

“My advice would be to stabilise the neck immediately. The next step would be a neck rehabilitation programme.”

By Jon Cardinelli