May 24, 2024

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The Sports Fanatics

Observing injuries in different sports

The big sporting event the past two weeks has been the World Cup Soccer Matches. For most of the world viewing market the World Cup is the most watched sporting event. In the United States football is the dominant watched sport and the Super Bowl has the biggest viewing audience. And in a few weeks basketball will be on the top of the viewing charts.

I enjoy watching most sports and the outstanding performances of athletes playing against good competition. Being a former athletic trainer I observe how athletes become injured and the aftermath after the injury. Several observations on various sport injuries is evident. Soccer has to be at the top of the list for extreme acting after an “injury.” The slightest bump or trip will find the athlete rolling on the field and often screaming in pain. And the athlete must lay there unable to move until a team of trainers arrive to care for him. The one innovative aspect of television is that it is now possible to watch close ups in slow motion of the collision that caused the injury. Watching the slow motion replay of the slight bump and the extreme action by the injured athlete is an art all in itself. Some of these players must have taken acting classes to put on such a performance.

Next up on the injury response list is basketball. The key to these over reactions to a bump or collision is to make sure the referee sees that there was a foul. The thing that makes these extreme reactions is that the players are very big, very tall, and weigh well over 250 pounds in many cases. Anytime 250-plus pound athletes collide there will be some reaction and possible injury. Many basketball injuries are not necessarily caused by contact with another player. The incredible jumping height that a player can reach and the weight hitting the floor wrong is an easy option for an injury.

Then you watch football and hitting another player with force is all part of the game. When you have a lineman that weighs over 300 pounds and can run a fast 40 the impact is tremendous. Padding helps absorb some of the impact but not as much as a person might think. I imagine some hits by a big lineman is like getting hit by a small car. And when several players join the pile somebody received some form of pain. And there is always that force that comes from another player falling into the athlete from the side or behind them and an injury occurs.

Hockey is in a class by itself. The boards that surround the rink are very unforgiving. It is like a brick wall. When a fast moving player hits another player against the wall that is a real collision. And those very hard rubber pucks that are taken out of a freezer before play can travel over 100 miles an hour. Hockey players have some padding under the jerseys but is classified as a bare minimum. As to the toughness of the players, I have watched a player go to the training room, get a dozen stitches to close the cut on his face and then it is back on the ice for the next rotation. One player on the team I worked with had to tape the stick to his hands because the arthritis in the fingers was so bad.

Then we come to runners. Not much contact or collisions with other runners for a possible injury. To run takes almost every joint and muscle in the body and they all have to work together. The slightest injury can make a runner unable to run. What is the percentage of the little toe on the foot in comparison to the rest of the body? Maybe .01% of the body mass. A sprained toe is enough to keep a runner from running. A sprained ankle, a pulled hamstring muscle, or a twisted knee all make running difficult. And if the runner manages to find some method to try for a run it will have a side effect on some other part of the body and result in another injury. A quick test I used to determine if a runner with a sprained ankle or twisted knee had recovered was to test the strength of the hip flexor muscle. When an athlete hurts the ankle or knee they can’t push off and lift the knee up. The leg is stiff at the knee joint and the hip flexor muscle (ilio-psoas) isn’t worked in a normal fashion. I would have the athlete sit down on a table and lift the knee up off the table. I would attempt to push the knee down. I would do both legs. If the injured leg was easier to push down that means that the injury needed more time and strength exercise to the hip flexor muscle. I have tested injuries from over a year ago and have been able to tell which leg was injured. Running injury free is tougher than it seems.