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The Untold injury records 11: what shoulders and thighs reveal

By Walter Broeckx

After the introduction part 1   and part 2   and part 3   and part 4    and part 5  and part 6 and part 7  and part 8  and part 9  and part 10 we continue to have a further look at some of the injuries in detail. And remember this is based on the injuries since 2002.

14. Shoulder injuries

I think we can say that no player ever gets injured on his shoulder from running around. So when a shoulder gets injured it will be a result of some kind of contact. As a result we added this type of to the contact injuries.

What does the numbers tell us?

Shoulder injuries Injuries Coefficient risk
Arsenal 20 367.35 %
Aston villa 6 110.20 %
Chelsea 3 55.10 %
Everton 1 18.37 %
Fulham 6 110.20 %
Liverpool 8 146.94 %
Man City 6 110.20 %
Man United 7 128.57 %
Newcastle 7 128.57 %
Tottenham 5 91.84 %
League average without Arsenal 5.44
Total injuries 69

Is it any surprise that when we talk about an injury that comes from contact we see Arsenal top of this table? No, not really by now. But what is baffling is that we are so much away from the rest. The league average is around 5 of such injuries. And Arsenal have had 20!

Mostly when players are fouled they fall on the ground. And when falling on the ground badly you can injure your shoulder. And that is seemingly happening to Arsenal players more than to others. Maybe if refs would act more and call more fouls and dish out more yellow cards against opponents who play Arsenal this could stop for a bit?

This might start to sound like a broken record but I can’t help it that the numbers always seem to indicate at the same thing. The more you get fouled the more chance of getting injured. And so we see this time and time again and it would be nice if it would stop at some point in time.

But only a few weeks ago it was made clear once again (and not for the first time this season) that some teams get a free pass to kick our players without the refs acting properly on the field.

Going back to the numbers we see that Everton hardly had any shoulder injuries in the past 10 seasons. An amazing low number of 1 shoulder injury is astonishing. Dishing out doesn’t lead to much injuries one could say.

Other teams that seem to suffer a lot from this type of injury is Liverpool. But compared to Arsenal it is peanuts of course. The same can be said of Manchester United and Newcastle. More than average but nothing compared to Arsenal.

So let us now move on to the last type of injuries we will look at in detail.

15. Thigh Muscle strain

Even though we could argue about the fact that being kicked on the thigh might lead to a contact injury we decided that this injury will be looked upon as a non contact injury. When you will look at the numbers later on you will realise that by doing this we reduced the contact injuries a bit.

Thigh Muscle strain Injuries Coefficient risk
Arsenal 55 204.55 %
Aston villa 30 111.57 %
Chelsea 34 126.45 %
Everton 23 85.54 %
Fulham 25 92.98 %
Liverpool 25 92.98 %
Man City 20 74.38 %
Man United 28 104.13 %
Newcastle 38 141.32 %
Tottenham 19 70.66 %
League average without Arsenal 26.89
Total injuries 297

So once again Arsenal well on top of the table. Far more than any other team. More than de double of the league average and thus leading to a very high risk coefficient.

So you understand that if we had decided to take this injury as a 50/50 contact injury it would even have increased the already high number of Arsenal contact injuries. But we didn’t so we will look at it as a non contact injury type.

And then we might ask some questions. As the other teams are all rather close to the league average apart from Newcastle and even Chelsea on the high side of the table and Manchester City and Tottenham on the low side of the table. So why is it that Arsenal has much more of this type of injuries?

I hope that the examination that Wenger wanted about the injuries will go deeper into this type of injury. As this is one of the few non contact injuries where we see a big gap between Arsenal and the rest.

If you have followed us thus far you may recall that when it came to non-contact injuries Arsenal in general was not top of the table most of the time. But in this case we are.

Is it a coincidence or a part of the body that is underdeveloped in training or overworked in training? I cannot judge it but I do hope that others who have more inside information will find the answer to the problem we certainly have with this injury type.

In the next article we will have a look at the risk that some teams are running on the field. We will go back to the initial numbers but we will add the number of games played in that period. As the work load of some teams are different and thus we cannot really compare the data as such for some teams. We know that top 4 teams play more matches in general than mid-table teams and so it might be interesting to compare a few of them.

And thanks to Mike T. one of the people who regularly comments on this site I have been able to do this. So stay tuned for more.

15 comments to The Untold injury records 11: what shoulders and thighs reveal

  • Rantetta

    Walter

    Thanks for these articles and the data within.

    As I read about shoulder injuries I thought of Theo. He seems to have had some genetic? issue, and suffered terribly in his first few years.

    The thing that struck me was how yer Blackburn’s and Bolton’s – knowing Walcott had this problem – targeted him, battering or tripping him at every opportunity. Many other teams took their lead from this violent behaviour, and spread it amongst Arsenal’s player’s.

    The refs encouraged all of this by not penalising the offenders, and it carries on unabaitted.

    So this is why I maintain there’s a ‘policy’ of continued KTSOOA.

    Whilst I hope Arsenal will publicly show these findings, I keep in mind the fact that they don’t publicise anything that could rightly (IMO) discredit the league and its workings. Mr Wenger recently spoke of A. Marriner being an honest ref, and rarely points out the extent to which refs allow Arsenal’s players to be unfairly disadvantaged.

    Check from 12:00 for comments about Marriner, but if you have 17 mins. watch all of it. Presser pre City match.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6R7_PAb8iE&list=UUDwmP8IRG4xZvXzh4hPFgIA

  • Chris N

    Surely the Elephant in the Room is Arsenals training and fitness methods compared to other teams. You cannot come to any useful conclusions about our susceptibility to injuries without it.

  • Gord

    ChrisN

    Your statement needs further conditions, as it includes the idea that the training and fitness staff injure the athletes.

  • Subsonic

    Don’t you think if we had a strong DM then these injuries may decrease a bit. Very interesting article. The overall physical presence that we can take from other teams needs addressing. It certainly adds up as you’ve down here.

  • bjtgooner

    Walter a great series of articles.

    I have a query on the muscle injuries and it is rather difficult to properly describe exactly what I am trying to get at.

    When a player is getting close to the “red” zone regarding muscle fatigue from playing too many successive matches in a short time span, I can see that to substitute such a player after 70 or 80 mins would help alleviate the problem. What I am struggling with is trying to quantify just how much alleviation would be involved and how is it determined.

    For example if a player runs 10km in a match, that is roughly 1km in 9 mins. So to ask the question the other way round – just how damaging is it for a player in (or approaching) the red zone to run that final approx. 1 or 2km?

    I realize this is only a small part of the overall injury considerations but I would welcome any thoughts.

  • Gord

    To just use a muscle at near full force, probably induces minor amounts of tearing. To continue to use the muscle at near full force, would lead to more tearing, if tearing is present. This is all within a single session (nominally). But I don’t think that is where your path leads bjtgooner. Where I think your path leads, is down the source of energy for muscle contraction.

    1. ATP – This is the main biochemical energy source. The cell removes a phosphate (forming ADP) and receives some energy. Can support a muscle for a couple of seconds.
    2. CP – Creatine is the primary backup for regenerating ATP. The amount of creatine in a muscle cell is something that can be changed by diet and exercise. CP can be used to regenerate ATP for times up to 20-30 seconds or so.
    3. Lactate – The easy way to get quick energy out of sugar, is to partially oxidize it to lactic acid. Cannot be sustained indefinitely (only 1-3 minutes), and results in the buildup of lactic acid in the muscle which has consequences to proper operation. Lactic acid can be oxidized when oxygen demands are lower for whatever muscle the lactic acid happens to be in. As lactic acid can get into the blood stream, the muscle cell that burns lactic acid isn’t necessarily the one which generated. This is part of the reason why sprinters are muscular all over. The generate lactic acid predominantly in the legs, and burn it everywhere.
    4. Aerobic – generate energy from the oxidation of fat. This happens to require a little bit of sugar.

    5. Hitting the wall. At some point, our body runs out of sugar. No sugar, can’t burn fat any more. Runners call it, hitting the wall. Cyclists call it bonking. Probably lots of other names. Energy is needed, fat is available, no more sugar. The body knows how to make sugar from protein. So, the body starts to make sugar out of protein that isn’t doing much at the moment. In a sense, the body is starting to eat itself.

    To run at high speed or to turn sharp corners, is mostly a fast twitch muscle response, and ATP/CP powers that. To run at constant (medium to slow speed) can be fat oxidation. The lactate system can power fast twitch for a while.

    Does that let you point at things better?

  • bjtgooner

    Wow, thanks Gord, very informative and I appreciate you taking the trouble to post that info.

    So how, in practical terms, can (or do) medical teams use that type of information to prevent muscle injury?

    With regard to muscle injuries – hamstrings, calf strain etc, I have been trying to remember how many we have had towards the end of a match, when muscles must be fatigued, but from memory (always dangerous) most of these, recently anyway, seem to have occurred mid-match. But I am happy to be corrected on that point.

  • Gord

    There are (at least) two things which get fatigued, the brain and the muscle. Are there multiple ways a muscle can become fatigued? Certainly one way for a muscle to become fatigued, is for the pH to drop due to the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscle. As lactic acid is burned, or leave the muscle (to go elsewhere), the pH may rise, and this “fatigue” can pass.

    Lactic acid comprises two things, the positively charged hydrogen atom, and the lactate counter ion. The only thing keeping that hydrogen ion in the cell, is the presence of large amounts of the negative lactate counter ion. If lactate leaves, the hydrogen will probably leave as well (in the literature, you often see the hydrogen atom referred to as a “proton”).

    Supposedly lactate can precipitate. This is a chemical reaction, and it results in charge transfer from the lactate (-1) to something else.

    I can remember people talking about eating tums (calcium carbonate/limestone) to help flush lactate. Last I looked, I didn’t see any definitive answer to what the cause of the muscle fatigue really is, in the situation where lactic acid is involved. Is it the proton, or the lactate? Combination of both? From my field of engineering (material science), hydrogen embrittlement is important. Again, a proton wandering around in a volume. I am inclined to think it is just the pH which cause the muscle fatigue associated with lactic acid.

    Are there other kinds of muscle fatigue?

    Sorry, I spend most of my time studying materials science, not sports physiology. I would have to hit the literature more to answer your question.

    I wouldn’t rule out brain fatigue. If the brain is supposed to send N messages to accomplish a task, but towards the end of a game the brain forgets to send one (or more), the possibility of injury could go up.

  • bjtgooner

    Gord – thats a great help in trying to get my mind around this problem. Many thanks.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Interesting as ever Walter……and Gord.
    Seems the same story every time in this series.
    As for the shoulder injuries, think poor Theo would raise quite a high coefficient on his own!
    Look forward to your collaboration with Mike T.
    Don not think there can be any doubt that the lack of ref protection from the constant fouling our players receive is a major cause of this. But, following on from recent threads, the length of recovery, and the amount of setbacks our players experience from all these injuries is of huge concern. Would be interested to be a fly on the wall during the clubs injury review

  • Gord

    OT: on field injuries

    The BBC is describing an incident that happened recently in the Ukraine. The URL I will put up is to Huffington Post, which is mentioned in the BBC article, mostly because that link to video worked for me (video is 11+ MB, 2:23). I guess BBC uses moreover to track who clicks through. It goes to Huffington Post.

    http://c.moreover.com/click/here.pl?z11495558794&z=1650249688

    Various news articles talk about Oleg Gusev swalling his own tongue. I don’t know how accurate that is. In my first aid kit, I have a set of tongue forceps, which is used for extracting a tongue in such situations. The opposing player who first attends him, has no hesitation at all as to what to do: he forces fingers from both hands into his mouth, to pry his mouth open, to open the airway. The response is immediate. I see no scooping motion with a finger to extract a tongue. But, somewhere that soccer player got instruction on recognizing a life and death situation, and how to deal with it. You can see later in the clip, where the fingers on one hand hurt, from being bitten so strongly.

  • Mark

    I think a thigh injury is most likely a contact injury. It most likely starts with a kick on the muscle and then if not given time to heal the injury is made worse. So I think you have to say that it at least is 50/50.

    The shoulder injuries are clearly contact and that Arsenal is so high suggests that refs allow other times to knock Arsenal players over at will!

    The FA needs to clean up this manipulation of the game!

  • Gord

    @Mark

    I can see thigh injuries as having a high likelihood of coming from contact, but there are enough ways of getting a thigh injury without contact that it is at best ambiguous.

    There are lots of silly things a person can do in training to injury your shoulder, but hopefully Arsenal has people in place to keep the players from doing these silly things. Which yes makes shoulder injuries most likely from contact.