This is going to be LONG ... but interesting 

To get in touch with the practitioners in this article please contact:

  • Kevin Aaron at 084 880 8030 - Chiropractor - Cape Town (Seapoint) and Johannesburg (Parkmore)
  • Nicholas Grobbelaar  at 083 673 7972 - Biokinetics - Johannesburg (Parkmore) nicholas@onceactive.co.za

This is all physiological and is a journey to recovery for me, I hope. I thought I would write this all down and perhaps it will be of some use to you reading this.

I was a professional swimmer. 17 years of it. I did 10 x 2 hour sessions every week. Along with land training and gym. The gym was generally unsupervised and lackadaisical. (no I did not spell that correctly the first time round)

Of course I missed some sessions, but not many. I was well disciplined and didn’t cheat on my workouts. I’m ESTIMATING that on average, counting for age (less when I was younger) I did about 7.5km per workout (its probably more, but I’m going to be conservative).

Thats 75km per week.

52 weeks in a year.

Lets say I didn’t train for one month of the year. That includes two weeks off after the big National champs and add 2 weeks for possible missed sessions.

Now we are looking at 48 weeks of 75km per week.

That adds up to 3600km per year x 17 years

3600 x 17 = 61200


UUURGH that’s madness. 

That’s 44 (43.7) times I swam to Cape Town from Johannesburg.

That’s 5 swimming trips to New York City!


1.5 times around the world

2.5 million laps

9 Nile River swims

I cant believe I did that.

That’s a lot of shoulder rotation, a lot of neck strain, a lot of ankle and knee torque. Yes … swimming, the sport that’s good for you.

Then there was stretching. Stretching for swimming is one of the most abusive things a person can go through.

Here is one of the them:  https://youtu.be/zYkHg_0csWk?t=1m32s

Notice the stretch in the video has the hands connecting about halfway down the back. That’s not how SA swimmers did it (not sure how they do it now), we did it with the hands level with the shoulders.

I’ll have to describe the others because I couldn’t find videos.

On your knees:

Hands on the back of your head. A person behind you pulls your elbows back to try touch them together.


Hand on your upper bum
Fingers pointing down your ass, thumbs pointing down the legs.
A person behind you attempts to touch your shoulders together.

I truly can’t believe we did this to our bodies. I hope that modern swimmers are no longer doing these stretches to the degree that we did
Now I’m not here to bash swimming, swimming is amazing and I loved being good at it. I just know that being a professional athlete means your body takes a beating.

Its been 12 years since I retired and over that time, I have gotten weaker and despite some exercise my body has battles to keep itself together. My knees are ok, but I wasn’t a very good breaststroker, so I didn’t have much mileage. Also my knees were weak then so I avoided breaststroke as much as possible.

Over the last 7 years my shoulders have become a massive hassle. They’re incredibly hypermobile. For those of you who don’t know what that means. Essentially it means that my shoulders want to fall out of their sockets. They’re very unstable and the head of my humerus rattles around the shallow “cup” that it sits in. There is a capsule there between the bones that cushions the joint. That capsule is brutalized by the rattling.
This causes a solid ache when strained, but not much more.

My major pain occurs in my rhomboids (the muscles between your scapula or wingbones) and in my neck, running up my neck into my head. I get wooziness and a drunk feeling in my head when this is happening. When it starts … it doesn’t stop. Its constant until I get treatment.

Onto a separate issue

I badly strained both ankles 14 months ago, only one was a drunken injury. The second was when I was leaving my physio after having gone to him for treatment from the first injury. I was pretty damn annoyed with myself I can tell you that.

I had strained very badly the ligaments on the outside of my ankle joints and got them treated. I was treated well, but didn’t have the money to do it properly and for long enough. When I was stable, about 7 weeks later, I went for a 3 km jog. About 30 minutes after I completed my run, the agony in my KNEES (Fuuuuck) was so bad that I had to be half carried back inside my flat.

Needless to say … I was annoyed with myself.

I honestly thought that I had finally gotten over my ankle problems and could exercise again. Over the last year, having done rehab, physio and stretching I don’t feel any closer to my goal of being a functioning physical human.

My ankles feel ok
My shoulders are constantly terrifying me
My knees swell up if I go for a strong walk (yes I’ve tried power walking)
I cant cycle, cos I get sore knees and a woozy head.

I feel like a 70 year old when I’m 37, I’ve had enough of this bullshit and I’m ready to commit.

Over the next weeks I’ll be going to Dr Kevin Aarons Family and Sport Chiropractic Centre to work with his professionals there. They’re an Interdisciplinary Centre with Nutritionists, Chiropractors, Biokineticists, and a linked personal trainer who has a lot of experience with professional athletes.

I'll keep you up to date as to my developments and when I'm able to go for a run, cycle comfortably, throw a ball without my arm landing in the next yard, go lift weights or play some football with my boys ... we can all celebrate together

PS: sorry for no pictures.... next time

brett rogers2 Comments