Friday 15 December 2017

Playing through pain barrier dangerous game

Luke Shaw. Photo: PA
Luke Shaw. Photo: PA

Barry Sigrist

There is a macho culture in football. You're supposed to 'be a man' and play through pain, but often that is the worst thing you can do.

If a player is in genuine pain and isn't confident of making it through 90 minutes, then clearly performance can be badly affected and, more significantly, the injury risk is higher.

Luke Shaw has a significant injury history and is still in that window where increased risk is present whenever he goes on the field.

Shaw needs to take care of himself so, if it's a question of missing one match, with the view of safeguarding his longer-term health, he's right to be up front with the manager.

You can understand why managers put pressure on players to play through pain. They want to put their strongest team on the field - if they can't, it might be the difference between keeping and losing their job.

And they know the influence they have over players. You often hear of players telling their club doctor that they are feeling an injury, then being asked the same thing by their manager and telling them they are fine to play.

Athletes need to listen to their bodies. If you are in pain, your body is trying to tell you something: if you just play on, you put yourself at greater risk of soft tissue injuries, muscle and ligament sprains and joint-related problems.

If, in this instance, Shaw and Chris Smalling were feeling considerable pain then they were right to tell their manager that they needed a break.

Barry Sigrist is a rehabilitation specialist at the Centre for Health and Human Performance.

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