I often think about two subjects that I chatted with Billy Robinson about:
1. Eastern medicine
2. Keeping the athlete's body healthy for life
Billy told me the story about his time in South East Asia. He injured his elbow. It became very swollen and painful to move. He was taken to a local herbalist who prepared an herbal medicine decoction for him to drink. Billy, willing to try anything to get better, drank the herbal medicine and was astonished at how quickly his injury went away. Billy said that he even had his translator take him back to the herbalist to have him show Billy all the strange looking herbs in the herb shop. He told me that he was a fan of herbal medicine after that experience.
As an eastern medicine physician, I was happy to hear about Billy's great experience with eastern medicine. Yet, having been a trainer for UCLA, another thing Billy said saddened me.
He stated his disappointment with the state of western sports medicine in his generation. He feels like he was never shown how to take care of his body in the best way possible and he is only finding out now in his seventies. He mentioned that if he was able to take better care of his body he probably wouldn't have retired in the 1990's.
Considering that he debuted in 1955 and retired in 1992, he had a really long career. But, he is such a strong guy, it is a shame that he cannot be as active as he likes in the sport that he loves due to his multiple surgeries.
Eastern medicine and the philosophy behind it has sustained the cultures of east Asia and the middle east for thousands of years. One of the main points here is that, despite any advancements in sports medicine, misinformation about eastern medicine and athletic longevity still permeates magazines and TV.
Here are a few quick and simple tips about preventing and treating sports injuries based on what I commonly see in my clinic. This is by no means a complete list:
1. Stay hydrated: many people do not feel thirsty when the weather is cold, but everyone still needs to hydrate and get all our electrolytes everyday.
2. Stretch after your workouts. If you have a tight muscle group and don't know how to effectively stretch it out, ask a professional.
3. Go natural, but DO NOT buy into supplement fads. Billy Robinson was taken to a professional herbalist that made the correct diagnosis and prescribed herbal medicine that treated his specific condition. Not all herbs are healthful to everyone. Go to a licensed herbalist and acupuncturist to find out what is best for your body, including questions you may have about diet.
Good luck to everyone in their athletic pursuits and maintaining optimum health.