By Walter Broeckx
First let me say I am not a doctor. But I am a person who likes to know how things come about. And so whenever I got an injury myself from doing sports I wanted to know from my doctors the how, why, what, where from it. And kept it in mind. Of course it might be that my doctors have given me wrong information. But as I have more or less recovered from my injuries I tend to believe them and think that they knew what they were talking about.
Apart from that I do have some good sources where I can get some relevant medical information. My oldest son is a veterinarian and his wife is a doctor. So if I have any medical question I can pick up my phone or just talk to them when they visit and I can get all the answers I need. And I use these sources whenever I need them.
When my latest article about injuries and referees was published a few doubted that the kicking (mostly unpunished) had much to do with our injuries. They want to put the blame on the manager’s door.
I gave the example of Walcott and his knee and people said: no, there was no contact. I gave the example of Debuchy and people said: there was no contact. No, not really at the moment the injury became visible. But prior to that both had been the victim of severe kicks and fouls. And some of those fouls were not recognised by the referees. Come to think of it and this is a disappointing thought for me…. that in both these matches the referee was Clattenburg. A ref I counted to be one of the better referees in the PL. And yet it was he who allowed those dangerous tackles and kicks leading directly to the injuries of those players.
If we go back to the Walcott injury he got kicked at his Achilles minutes before his knee finally gave way and his ACL was ruptured. Now you might say: how can a kick on the Achilles lead to a knee injury? To understand this you have to look and think deeper than the outside of the body.
If we look at the broken leg of Eduardo it is simple. You get what you see. A lunge at ankle height and there goes the ankle to the left and there you can find the rest of the body to the right. That is so simple because you see the impact and the final result in an instant. Even a blind man can see it you could say. Or even man who are blinded can see it.
But this is not always the case. Sometimes you have impact on a body and the injury occurs somewhere else. Let me give you an example of this. A boxer is hit on the chin. He has no injury on the chin but he goes down to the floor and is unconscious and suffers brain damage. We all have heard of such things. But why are his brains hurt? After all he was hit on the chin and there is still some distance between both parts of the body.
This is because you have an impact zone (chin) and then the force from the impact is transferred in to the body and it has to find a place where the forces can find a place to end. And those forces usually end up at the weakest point available. It is a bit like a chain. A chain is as strong as its weakest link. The same can be said when you suffer from a kick or a punch. The weakest part will give way.
So a lot of the ACL injuries come from landing badly on the feet with the knee in a vulnerable position. And if you look at the images from the kick at the Achilles of Walcott you can see that he lands in a strange way on his feet, almost with his toes stuck in the grass. But as he is still moving and as a result of the kick landed awkwardly his knee suffers the impact of both kick and bad landing. The forces from the kick went up his leg and ended up on the ACL which was carrying the weight of his body and the impact of kick and landing bad. Damage was done there. You can be sure about that. Theo stayed down after that. But got up. Adrenaline. A partially rupture of the ACL is not the end of it.
That end came minutes later when he planted his foot to stop a cross and then the complete rupture came from a seemingly innocent incident. And that is what people see. But that is only the final result. The damage had been done before. If the ACL was ruptured for 75% it still is working and you can run. You lose some stability, you can have a sore knee but as it is still connected it still does its job for a part. And these players are used to pain and their body is full with stuff that makes you run through the pain.
Getting kicks is not just about the injury on the impact zone. It also is about the forces that are sent in your body and that have to find a way to get absorbed somewhere. It is like the tennis elbow. I have suffered from this. And a tennis elbow is an injury you can get from impact on your fingers or wrist. A tennis player can get it from hitting the ball and the forces enter his wrist and end up at his elbow and cause the damage there.
I got it from playing volleyball. My serves where extremely given with lots off spin that made the ball drop low just over the net and rather close to the net. Of course I didn’t hit the ball with my elbow to serve but with the connection of hand and wrist. As a result however the forces that were made whenever I did such a smash-serve went through my wrist and arm up to my elbow. And as a result I ended up with a tennis elbow and after a few years I had to stop playing at all. Even now when on holiday and wanting to join the people on the beach or in the pool playing what looks like volleyball is something that I cannot do it for more than a few moments. The pain comes back each time. Still after having stopped playing some 15 years ago!
So next time you see an injury I just suggest you look further than the incident itself. Unless of course it is a Diaby, Eduardo, Sagna, Ramsey, ….These types of injury are where it is bloody obvious where the injury came from. Otherwise try to find out if previous to the “popping up” of the injury there had been other moments where there was a big impact on that particular part of the body and try to find out if the forces inside the body invisible for us might have contributed to the injury.
If you want to find more about Özil his injury I suggest you try to rewatch both Tottenham and Chelsea matches. You will see a few tackles and fouls (some not given of course) where you might come to the conclusion: hey this could have an inside impact on the knee. The Mason tackle is one but his compatriot Shurle also gave him a rather vicious kick in the first half. No foul given of course. But I still have to review the match completely. So will be now on the lookout to see if I can spot the foul that did the damage to Özil.
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