We know that more than half of adolescent athletes have played sport when injured, and almost as many athletes report hiding or downplaying an injury so they could stay in the game. What are the possible consequences of playing with pain or injury? At what point does it become a problem? Should you tell anyone about it?
We know that when you play with pain individual performance drops, and with that, so too does the overall performance of the team. You cannot play your role properly! Additionally, especially in overuse injuries (which account for over half of the injuries experienced by adolescent footballers), tissue damage can already have occurred prior to you feeling pain or performing poorly.
Some excellent research was recently undertaken here in Australia by Martin Whalan (a physiotherapist). He looked at more than 200 semi-professional male soccer players. The aim of this study was to attempt to identify whether there is a link between how a player feels, and their risk of suffering an injury. What Whalan found was that roughly 70% of injuries that caused lost game time, were preceded by players reporting a niggle, that they felt they could play through. Furthermore, a whopping 94% of significant knee injuries and 90% of hamstring injuries were preceded by a niggling pain.
The key takeaway here is that physical niggles were found to be linked to a 3 to 6 fold increase in the risk of sustaining a serious injury in the following week. Is this a risk you would be happy to play with? It’s simple: if you want to play at your best, and avoid injury, report any niggles that you have and get them assessed by a Physiotherapist.