Sunday, March 21, 2010

At What Point Does One Say 'Enough'?

The Squashist is not amused. Not happy. Pretty pissed off, even.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I've had a tough time lately with injuries. In the summer I experienced a torn rotator cuff, but after much rehab I was able to get back on the court and avoided an operation. Then, an old nagging ankle injury flared up, and what used to be a mild annoyance began actively hindering my game and keeping me off the court. So I had laparoscopic surgery to correct that. It was successful; that was nice.

For a couple of weeks, that is. Probably as a result of a slightly altered gait from the ankle injury, I also developed runner's knee, or what's called chondromalacia patellae, a misalignment of the knee joint that can lead to pain, particularly on the back of the knee. This too is rehabable, which I was doing. But I was also playing, because I felt pretty good.

Which is why last Friday I was on the court in a tournament, playing pretty well, but in the first game I realized that my knee was going to be a bit of a bother. Not a big deal, but it was in the back of my mind. I lost that game, though it was close. In the second game, towards the end, I planted my right foot and swiveled to my right to hit a fairly standard rail. Unfortunately, pop went my knee. I lost that game and made a lame attempt to get back on in the third, but after the first point I realized I might be hurting myself more and the pain was enough that it was stupid to continue. 

I have an ortho appointment tomorrow to get the word on what happened, but I suspect that the chondromalacia allowed my knee to move in ways it shouldn't, and damaged something as a result: ligament? tendon? muscle? confidence? Now I look back and see that, in the last nine months, I've had three serious squash-related injuries. I've been more off the court than on. 

It's a question that every squash lover must unfortunately address sooner or later: When do the insults of age (I'm 51) exert enough of an effect on your ability to play this game as you are accustomed that you would rather bow out with honor then peter out pathetically? I was playing well against a player who was nearly 30 years younger; that's a nice feeling. But it's not nice to forfeit because of injury and limp off the court for another month or two of rehab.

I also play tennis. Tennis is a nicer game on the joints and legs. It has more upper-body work, so it is tougher on the rotator cuff and shoulder, and in my experience it is also a little harder on the back, but in general tennis is nicer to the body. 

Is a smart progression for a squash player feeling his years to segue into tennis? Am I really the Tennisist

I've decided I will rehab this latest injury according to what the experts tell me to do and wait to get their okay to get back on the court. But I don't think I can take another injury.... 


  1. Well,I've got a nice case of chondromalacia patellae as well as a minor tear of the hamstring. Both rehabable injuries, though stubborn, and will take time. But my orthopedist as well as my podiatrist are both squash players, both understand the details of the injuries and appreciate the desire to get back on the court. I've got orthotics coming that will address the gait issue that led to the chondro, and will work every day in the gym on rehabbing the hamstring. So all is not lost, it just seemed that way. Several squash players got back to me, both offline and through SquashZAG, and told me that these injuries are a sign I have to change the way I play the game. I'm playing a young man's attritional, bang-up game and my body doesn't like that any more -- I have to start going for nicks more frequently and be a lot more aware of length and less of power. So I have to start thinking a different approach. We'll see what happens.....

  2. The problem with switching to a more agressive game is that it demands the quick explosive movemement that also disppears with age.

    I have tried this and find that, with training that includes plyometrics, I can sustain playing this kind of game for a couple of weeks before it also takes its toll in terms of general fatigue, stiffness etc.

    I was talking about this last evening after a very tiring game and concluded that the training I need to keep me in shape for this kind of play tires me out too much to play matches!

    I've tackled dietary issues too in the hope of maintaining energy levels and improving recovery rates, but at 56 I think I am being forced to play at a level that I'm not happy admiting to.

  3. Just 51? Stay with squash by all means. I am 60 and have had many of the same knee and shoulder injuries as you, but squash is easier on the mind and body than tennis, racquetball, or golf. I think it helped my rehab.


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....