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Interview with race doctor PHD Harlass-Neuking

Posted on: Sonntag 5th Februar 2017


A cold, muscle ache or back pain – some of those unfortunate things do also occur during race week. And so it happens that one occasionally needs medical care at the race venue. In Regensburg, Dr. med. Harlass Neuking is there to help athletes in such cases. He is the official race doctor of Challenge Regensburg.

Hello Mr. Harlass-Neuking,
working in the line of sports, are you also a sports enthusiast in your private life?

As a sports doctor it seems natural that you’re enjoying sports in the evening hours after a normal working day and/ or on the weekends. Of course, you need to be passionately about sports when you’re dealing with it on a daly basis. I’ve been active in different sports, mostly ball games (hockey, tennis, handball, soccer). Today I’m trying to find time for regular running at least.

Ball sports often involve injuries in the muscle, tendon and ligament apparatus. This is probably not to be expected during Challenge Regensburg race week. With which problems are athletes eventually coming to you last minute?

In case of real injuries in the muscle or tendon area, racing will unfortunately not be possible. Fortunately, reasons for medical treatment during race week mostly are remaining issues of the previous hard training, such as tendon stimulation or muscle hardening or on the other hand acute influenza infections or gastrointestinal disturbances. In these cases, it’s a  short term decision whether medication can be taken, or whether a start at the Challenge must be canceled.

What can an athlete do if he’s still got minor issues during race week, and what should he avoid in any case?

In the case of minor muscle problems, it is certainly good to have the statics, especially in the spinal column and pelvic area, checked by a physiotherapist in order to remedy any existing muscular imbalances. Massages and heat treatments can also help to eliminate muscular tightness. Of course, the training sessions must be significantly reduced during race week.

In any case, you should avoid physical stress during fever or inflammation, in order not to damage the immune system. Also during race week, sensible regenerative measures, such as balanced nutrition and a good sleep hygiene, should be implemented.

Long distance racing is “in”. But such a challenge has to be prepared propperly. What physical preparation does an athlete need to be able to race a long distance successfully?

In order to cope with a long distance triathlon race, a well-structured preparatory phase of about 1-2 years is certainly recommended. Each of the disciplines singularly should not be a problem any more. Within the scope of the preparation, a sports medicine check-up at least at the beginning and after a few months of hard training seems to be a good idea.

You’ve been working with triathlon Pro Sonja Tajsich for quite some time. What kind of injuries do professionals have to deal with and are they different from those of age group athletes?

The medical problems do not differ significantly among professionals and ambitious amateur athletes. Triathlon training can easily lead to problems in the muscle/ tendon area. Particularly affected are, for example, the Achilles tendon, the plantar fascia at the feet, or the rotator cuff at the shoulder joints. As already mentioned above, there are also repeated muscular imbalances in the spinal column area, which can lead to stress pain in the torso and leg area. Rather less frequent, for example, compared to ball sports, activated cartilage damage can be found on the joints.

Why do you want to be part of the Challenge Regensburg and what are your chances for the city and the region?

Due to the long-standing trustworthy collaboration with the Tajsich family, it was an honor for me and my colleagues Dr. med. Bernd Meyer and Dr. med. Susanne Zimmermann to support the Challenge Regensburg. Challenge Regensburg is definitely a highlight for this beautiful city and the atmosphere at the first edition in August 2016, especially in the old town area, was simply fascinating.

By now everybody knows how much publicity such an event can achieve for a city and a district. That’s why we want to make a contribution from the medical side. We’d like to make sure participants are well-cared for and treated professionally. This is to be a mosaic stone, in order to allow the enthusiasm for the triathlon sport, both with the participants and the local population, to grow further.



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