Unusual injuries seem to be plaguing the NFL, NBA, and other professional athletes. We may wonder, Is this for real? Seems the NBA has Steve Nash (LA Lakers) injuring his back while moving luggage and Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics) broke his hand falling in the shower. In the NFL, DeAngelo Hall (Washington Redskins) tore his Achilles tendon while getting pizza from his kitchen and LaMarr Houston (Chicago Bears) tore his ACL after celebrating a sack. And the NHL’s Corey Crawford suffered a lower-body injury at a concert. Looking back on all this, one wonders…can this be prevented? Is this really happening or is this just a cover story? Well we all saw Houston’s celebration dance come to a screeching halt! Still, it’s hard to imagine that these fine specimens of strength are falling to such common daily tasks.
One factor could be if a player has suffered a past injury or has a chronic history of tendonitis. Many times athletes will not complain about minor aches and pains. They may even try to manage it on their own by taking anti-inflammatory medication or using ice. But not addressing the cause of these flare ups can lead to problems. Tissue that is pathologic can be more susceptible to injury in its weakened state. Even the professional athletes are only as strong as their weakest link!
Fatigue may also play a role. We all know that trying to perform any task while tired is a challenge. Fatigue does not allow us to put our best effort forward and inhibits our reaction time, therefore making us more susceptible to injury. To avoid fatigue players need to be smart in their training and manage their time to get proper rest. Players may work hard and party hard, but when is the physical and mental rest happening?
Mental distractions are also a potential cause for unusual injuries. Often people have other things on their mind that may distract them from putting 100% effort into a task. For professional players, this distraction may cause them to be unaware of a potential force that they would have otherwise been able to prepare for.
And lastly, maintaining good training and conditioning throughout the year is key to a healthy season. In football you may have heard this phrase: there is no off-season. Of course there is an off-season, but it should not be completely off for training purposes. Players should have a program for off-season, pre-season, and during season to modify the elements of strength building, conditioning, and skills needed to be an effective team player.
Whether you’re a professional athlete or a member of the general public, there are a few things to keep in mind to avoid unusual injuries: 1) be mindful of your posture and practice safe movement mechanics; 2) be aware of your surroundings to prevent potential slips and falls; 3) maintain an active lifestyle; 4) eat a healthy diet to provide your body with proper fuel for living.
Jessica Hettler is a physical therapist, board certified clinical specialist in Sports Physical Therapy, and certified athletic trainer with the James M. Benson Sports Rehabilitation Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.