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Chiropractor helps straighten out athletes

After getting knocked around, hit, tackled, trampled and bruised, an arena football athlete probably could use a good checkup.

Enter Dr. Robert Irwin, team chiropractor for the once-again Albany Firebirds, the former Albany Conquest.

Irwin has been the team's spinal expert for five years and, he said, in such a physically demanding sport, it is vital to keep an eye on the bone structure.

Irwin graduated from Averill Park High School and went to school to study to be a chiropractor at Life University in Georgia. He also has taken courses in sports management some extra specialization in sports related injuries.

I tend to look at people in a biomechanical perspective, Irwin said.

Irwin said a "ground up" approach is the easiest way to explain how he examines the athletes. He said the foundation is the most important, and having even feet will lead to less knee, hip and shoulder stress.

"If you have an un-level foundation, you've got problems," Irwin said.

He said one possible solution for an uneven base is "orthotics," or shoe inserts that raise the arch of a foot and balance the weight for either side of the body.

The Arena Football League, which is similar to the National Football League in some ways, such as the 16-game-schedule, has several key differences, which add to the physical demands of the players.

The players in the NFL usually play offense or defense exclusively, allowing them to rest for half of the action. In arena football, players often play "both sides of the ball," meaning they play offense and defense.

Irwin said he often sees linemen and wide receivers, two positions that see many aches and pains from the high physical stress of the game.

Irwin said linemen will block on offense and try to rush the quarterback on defense, while wide receivers double as defensive backs, trying to deflect passes from the opposing quarterback to his receivers.

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