Sports Spotlight on: Football

Here, for this Sport Spotlight on Football, Andy Renshaw shares his in-depth knowledge about the sport, common injuries, and how to avoid them.

Andy Renshaw is a Consultant Physiotherapist here at Harris & Ross, with lots of experience in Premier League Football Physiotherapy – including as Head Physio for Liverpool FC.

“What injuries do you see most often in this sport?

Although the majority of the research into this area will tell you it’s hamstring injuries, the truth is that it depends upon several factors. The main injuries we see are generally both hamstring and quadriceps muscle tears, knee ligament/joint injuries, ankle injuries, and injuries of the hip and groin. The proportion of these injuries within any squad of players can depend upon a variety of factors. Previous injuries of those players, their age, their playing position, the training that they undertake. The majority of any injuries will occur in matches, as opposed to training. If anyone fancies reading more into it, feel free to google the injury audit I published in 2016 – serves as a great cure for insomnia too!

As a physio how do you treat them?

It goes without saying that every injury is different, and every person/player/athlete is different. Given these factors, your approach to each injury can vary. The basics still apply to the majority of the injuries we tend to see in football; early management should involve ice, compression, elevation, and rest! Treatment of each injury will depend on the severity and location of each injury. For example, a hamstring tear involving a proportion of tendon, will take longer to heal than a straightforward hamstring injury occurring in the muscle belly (the mid-part of the hamstring muscle).

We also manage a different type of injury quite conversely. When we treat something called a tendinopathy (most people will recognise the now defunct term tendinitis), we sometimes have to ensure that the patient experiences pain as a means of rehabilitation. This can cause some confusion with patients who don’t expect to be told this – but if you do your research you’ll see that we’re doing exactly what is needed to get you back playing football as fast as you can!

Something else that I’m always very keen on, is having specific ‘return to performance’ tests in place for each specific injury. For example, if a player is returning from an ankle ligament injury, I’d want to ensure that the player had completed a set of tests. If they complete these tests, then I know it will mean their return to sport will be as safe, but also as swift, as possible. If we don’t do these tests, then we cannot be sure we are both maximising performance, whilst also minimising the risk of re-injury to the player.

What’s the one piece of advice you would give your best mate if they were playing football and wanted to avoid an injury?

This where I get quite geeky (sorry!). I’d advise them that they need to hit every one of my ‘milestones’ to minimise the risk associated with playing football. So I’d ensure their strength, balance/co-ordination, power, are as equal between each leg as they can be (I aim for a maximum difference between each side of 10% across all tests). I’d need to know that their fitness regime prepares them for the demands of both a training week AND a game. I’d always recommend regular assessments / treatments with a physio to ensure there are no unseen issues developing.

In short, the answer to this question is to work on strength of each limb individually, and as specifically as you can, to the demands of the game. And, if they have any issues, to see me!”

You can book in with Andy online or by calling us on 0161 832 9000.