Playing with an injury or an little niggle can be risky business, as it can lead to further issues.
“You’ll Be Right”, “Stop Your Whinging” and “Just Push Through It” are classic examples of pressures put on players to continue to train or play with sore areas, tight spots or niggling issues.
From personal experiences, we have seen many instances where, especially in professional sports – a player comes back to playing too soon, often still with an injury. In pretty much all cases, they end up creating more damage to their current injury, making it much worse or even creating a new but far worse injury. Any of these scenarios lead to extended time on the sidelines, compared to potentially a shorter time if they had looked after the smaller injury properly.
Lower limb muscular strains or niggles seem to be the most common injury people push through, as well as mild knee, ankle and shoulder pains.
A classic example is groin pain. This is much more common in lower limb dominant sports like football and soccer and is more common in males. We often see this type of injury when their training loads increase dramatically (e.g. training from juniors to seniors, etc). They tend not to have the strength to handle the new training load and this results in them putting more stress on structures in the groin area. Typically, they wont say anything to their coaches about their pain as they don’t want to be seen as weak or risk not being selected to play. Continuing to train at this higher level and playing will increase the strain and the soreness in the groin. This increased soreness results in their pace slowing down, prevents them from turning or changing direction quickly and decreases the power of their kicks.
If they had this soreness treated when it first arose, the treatment offered for early intervention could have been targeted to help the pain and also the physio could have worked with them to figure out a way to manage their training load and getting back up to game speed. Then the case would have been potentially dropping a couple of training sessions and supplementing it with other exercise, to be able to continue playing. This method may turn from missing anywhere from upwards of 3-4 games, to potentially missing the one game or even parts of one game.
Another dreaded injury is the knee, and this can be much worse than groin issues.
Such injuries are common in jumping and twisting sports like netball and basketball. Minor niggles can consist of patella tendon problems or mild bone bruising, which many people tend to play through. Some people can push through the pain to get through the game, but end up quite sore afterwards and leading to missing the next game. The problem with these injuries are that it can lead to muscle inhibition around the muscles that support the knee. This can lead to poor control of the knee when you land and cause a collapse. This is how major ACL injuries occur. If this was to happen, you risk not playing for 9 to 12 months and potential surgical intervention before being able to return to sport.
Not only do these injuries cause extra missed games, it requires a much more extensive rehabilitation program, especially post-surgical. We advise to sort out your minor niggles, sore spots or strains to prevent a even harder road ahead, rather than missing one or two games.
If you get checked out by a sports physio, they can put your concerns at ease and create an ideal treatment plan to keep you playing sport, rather than sitting on the sidelines.
You can book a Sports Assessment with our physiotherapists to get you on the right track and moving forward for further injury prevention. Our physiotherapists have dealt with a wide range of injuries from various sports – they know what to do to help you see results and get you back to playing.
David Wilson, myPhysioSA Partner Physiotherapist