Thursday, July 29, 2010

Football - a funny old game

Much is made in the media about stress fractures and association with 'light boots' but there is little real evidence to associate the two. The soccer slipper to the best of my knowledge appears to include all that is known about the sport plus the clever inclusion of new polymers. Genuine concerns were expressed when players used the cleats to rip and tear at the flesh of opponents but otherwise despite the focus on high profile players suffering from 'generic'stress fractures there is no independent evidence of 'cause and effect.

Fractures of the middle three metatarsals or March Fracture was well named and historically relates to 'square bashing' (British military slan for drill on a barracks square)in military training. From the First World War on wards preparation for disciplined combat involved marching on hard parade grounds. Many new recruits suffered fatigue fractures from endless marching. As military sartoria developed and over the ankle boots were introduced, fatique fractures of the metatarsals were replaced with shin splints. The more enlightened countries realised whilst boots had their place in combat, physical exercise was best achieved wearing less restrictive footwear. There is reference to this in the literature relating to reported injuries in the Israeli and New Zealand recruits.

Over use of elite athletes has the same effect resulting in exhaustion and in those prone, fatigue fractures. Wayne Rooney is certainly a case in point where the man has such a punishing regime to earn his money he is prone to ‘niggling injuries’ which I would suggest have more to do with overall fatigue, serendipity and trauma with the ball (in the case of Jones' fracture) than anything else. The aftermath was pretty obvious at the recent FIFA World Cup with many marquee players distinctly off form after horrendously long playing seasons.

The media are always keen for a good story and have seldom let the truth come between them and a headlining scoop. The recent works on football boots and injuries from Dundee Univ was quickly picked on and sensationalised somewhat. Good copy because of the impending FIFA World Cup but from what I read little more than conjecture.

In similar mode the disdain of ‘old farts’ (Sir Alec being one on this occasion) uncomfortable with the new light boot (in bright colours) brought a tirade of complaint. No better way to criticise than demonise them as injury causing. No need for hard evidence when there are A & E experts were to hand to extrapolate concerns to the wider population of amateur footballers.

Quid pro quo

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