Aspiring Eastern Cape athletes will learn more about the prevention and treatment of career-threatening injuries during an intensive track and field coaching clinic at Kirkwood High School next week.

The three-day clinic, which is presented by NMMU Madibaz Athletics Club, will take place from January 14 to 16 and offer guidance from the province’s top coaches and sporting experts.

Among these will be local general practitioner Dr Riaan Barnard, who holds a master’s degree in sports and exercise medicine from the University of the Free State.

Barnard will present a wide-ranging lecture on the different types of injuries that plague competitive athletes and share simple strategies for treating these injuries.

“I’ll also elaborate on the preventative measures that athletes and coaches can take to help avoid these problems.”

Barnard, himself a competitive bodybuilder, has a specific interest in orthopaedics and strength sports and has been medical officer to the national chapter of the International Federation of Bodybuilders for the past five years.

“I have a keen interest in sporting talent identification and development in the youth and am contemplating possible further studies in this field.”

Barnard said musculotendinous injuries were some of the most common sports-related problems he encountered in his private practice.

“It differs from sport to sport. The type of injuries seen in triathlon athletes differs hugely from what is seen among sports like rugby.”

As far as athletics was concerned, he said the type of presenting injuries also varied according to the individual athlete’s area of specialisation.

“There are obviously more upper limb and lower back injuries among the field athletes, whereas track specialists would generally present with lower limb injuries.”

According to Barnard, it was important to distinguish between acute injuries and those due to chronic overuse.

“Acute injuries are those that present immediately and are relatively easy to diagnose. They are usually due to a specific traumatic incident and are associated with immediate excruciating pain, swelling and bruising.”

By comparison, he said, chronic overuse injuries usually had a very gradual onset and the symptoms tended to increase in severity the longer the injury was left unattended.

“The chronic injuries are due to a list of things – repetitive minor insults on a daily basis, poor biomechanics, poor training surfaces and so forth.”

Barnard said they were usually diagnosed by taking a thorough patient history, as well as conducting special investigations such as soft tissue sonars, X-rays, and CT and MRI scans.

“In the treatment of these injuries, I place a lot of emphasis on finding the cause – those minor repetitive insults – and then repairing these by incorporating the repair into the treatment and rehabilitation programme.”

Barnard said a sports excellence facility was currently being planned for the local high school and would be operational within the next three years.

“This will be for talent development and will be funded as a community project with resources from a wind project.”

The coaching clinic is open to all athletes and coaches from schools across the province and places are still available.

Registration costs R100 per person and includes lunch and refreshments on the Thursday and Friday.

Out-of-town athletes will be housed at the school hostel. Accommodation and meals cost an additional R280 per person for two nights.

For more information, contact Jeremey Pettit at Kirkwood High School on 082 862 5808 or Nellis Bothma at NMMU on 082 575 1818.

Navigate to Outreach Progammes on to download the entry form.

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Garth Ellis - LRMadibaz high jump star Garth Ellis will assist aspiring athletes at the Madibaz Athletics Club’s coaching clinic, which takes place at Kirkwood High School from January 14 to 16. Photo: Richard Huggard

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