Thursday, December 17, 2009

Squash Injuries, Part 2

Marty Clark, an excellent squash player who was the US national champion four times running and achieved a world ranking of 59, is also an orthopedic surgeon, and wanted to research squash-related injuries. In addition to emailing questionnaires to 20 elite players worldwide, he distributed questionnaires to squash players around New York City clubs, and I, dear readers, was one of the respondents. The questionnaire asked about injuries the players had experienced over the last two years.

His survey found a rather high incidence of lower-extremity injuries, which was somewhat surprising since racket sports often create more trouble for the elbow, wrist and shoulder. Clark theorized that the lighter racket and the fact that fewer shots are hit overhead, as compared with tennis and badminton, were elements that helped reduce upper-body problems.

Clark's retrospective survey found that 35% of the players had suffered an injury requiring that they miss at least one week of play during the preceding two years. The mean age of those suffering injuries was about 3 years older than those not reporting injuries. (And for all you older players out there, let me commiserate: Bah!) The sites of injuries were:

  • Hip/groin: 25%
  • neck/back strains: 13%
  • shoulder/elbow: 13%
  • achilles/calf: 9%
  • hamstring: 6%
  • quadriceps: 6%
  • knee: 6%
In addition, 40% of the players reported a chronic injury -- perhaps requiring bracing (15%) or surgery (18%) -- that was related to squash. The most common chronic injuries were:

  • Foot/ankle: 24%
  • hip/groin: 21%
  • knee: 21%
  • back/sciatica: 17%
  • shoulder/elbow: 17%
There was one eye and one shoulder surgery, knee and foot surgeries, ACL reconstructions, and arthroscopies to repair meniscal tears. There were 8 participants who reported either eye or facial trauma at some point in their squash-playing histories.

As anyone who has played squash for a while will tell you, the wear and tear on the body can lead to down time. I think any athletically demanding game can prompt injuries, and a subsequent visit to a really good orthopedist, or podiatrist, or physical therapist, etc. It's part of the price we pay for loving and playing the sport. However, knowing how we injure ourselves can help us take preventive measures when possible. My advice (and I'm currently injured, so I ought to know) is to play within the limits of your body. Don't try to be an on-court hero, don't try to play too frequently without giving your body time to recover, and don't twist so much to get a ball that you end up running into yourself on the other side!

But keep squashing if you can.....

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. What would be great is to get the comparison of those numbers with the ones for other sports (in particular, other racket sports).


Sorry, but due to increasing spam, I've added the Word Verification step. My policy on comments is anything goes, as long as it is about squash and as long as it isn't unnecessarily nasty....