DOCTOR’S CORNER with Dr JOSEPH KABUNGO
I HAVE been discussing with my colleague from Cameroon whom I am working with during the 2017 Gabon Africa Cup of Nations on the need for players to rest.
I am in Gabon as a member of the Confederation of African Football medical committee.
Rest can provide a perfect window for the recovery of overuse injuries and he shared with me how a young player from his country has been troubled by a groin injury.
This injury has been attributed to overuse and the insistence of the player and the coach to continue playing even when he is experiencing pain in the groin.
The picture is not different from what I have observed in many players I have handled through the years.
The long soccer season and the lack of adequate recovery of players from repeated micro-trauma can lead to some of the observed overuse injuries affecting various parts.
It is the nature of the pain and the challenges associated with the treatment of overuse injuries that must be appreciated by sports men.
It does not matter what sort of sport you play but the bottom line is that overuse injuries are a common occurrence.
It is worth remembering that overuse injuries are as a result of the repetitive trauma that arises either in the muscle, tendon or any other structure associated with participation in sport.
Normally sport and exercise in general has to be beneficial and not cause any pain. However the prolonged periods of certain activities result in body structures failing to recover fully before the next training session and in the end this results in having muscles or tendons which are too weak because of this repeated trauma.
This is the reason why recovery and good training programmes are an essential component in the prevention of injuries.
It must be appreciated that there are also individual differences which exist and two people will react differently to the same training programme.
It becomes vital for the coaching staff and the medical team to take individual differences into consideration.
In football, overuse injuries will result in loss of confidence, sprinting will be affected, and performance will go down.
If there is no in-depth investigation on how a good player has suddenly lost form, the problem will take longer to resolve.
This is one attribute of overuse injuries which has to be taken care of all the time.
Bilateral groin pain, or pain in the right and left groin area is one concern to an athlete, especially those involved in sport where sprinting and jumping is part of the game.
Groin pain in a football player or athlete can be so debilitating especially if it results in them missing training or competitive games.
Most of the players will complain of pain which is associated with exercise.
The pain will be felt as soon as they engage in physical activity and disappear when they have fully warmed up.
If the problem is not attended to, the pain will continue even after a training session.
I have seen football players resorting to taking painkillers which are self prescribed.
The normal language is that â€œDoc, I need some diclofenacâ€, and when you ask them why they need the painkiller, they respond that the body is generally aching.
The bottom line is that they are trying to conceal one problem for fear of losing a position in the team.
The players do more harm than good to themselves each time they want to participate in sport while carrying an injury.
This is not the case only for overuse injuries but also for many other types of injuries.
In football players, the groin pain that can be unilateral or bilateral, will result in reduction of the turning and twisting movements, loss of power in kicking the ball, reduction in sprinting abilities and the general technical abilities will be affected.
The most important thing is for anyone experiencing this kind of groin pain to seek medical attention.
This will enable the medical team to assess the player and come up with specific programmes that will help in the recovery process.
Neglected groin injuries can result in long periods of absence from football.
To avoid these long periods of absence, the groin pain has to be reported early.
Applying ice after physical activity will reduce the pain and the actual inflammatory process.
It is also important to consider taking rest from sport related physical activities that might trigger pain in the groin.
After a period of rest a gradual return to physical activity is always advisable and this must be coupled with exercises that will strengthen the muscles.
The world soccer governing body, FIFA has come up with an injury prevention programme which is known as the Eleven Plus (Eleven +).
This programme has a set of simple but important exercises which can be used in the injury prevention and also the strengthening of the core muscles.
It is important if you are a football player in an organised structure to ask your coach about this programme.
It is a programme that every coach should be conversant with because of the benefits it has in helping in injury prevention.
The coaching bench should always take players wellbeing as a priority.
It is also a primary responsibility of the player to take care of his or her own health and seek medical attention for any physical problem.
For questions and contributions write to Dr Kabungo Joseph
DOCTOR’S CORNER with Dr JOSEPH KABUNGO