After 10 Rounds of the NRL it has become clear that injuries are going to play a major part in this years race for the title. As the weeks go on one injury seems to just keep popping up, the infamous knee injury. The knee injury has ended the season of a fair few players this year, and sidelined many others for periods of time.
What causes this injury to occur has been a topic of some serious debate. Many have pointed to the fact that players are being rolled on to their backs after the tackles, some point to gang tackles, where a player goes low, several go high and the dump the player on their back, at times trapping the tackled players foot in a bad position and as the player gets back slammed, his knee gets twisted. Both interesting and plausible arguments, and both hold some merit, but I?m not going to go into either, I?m going to bring a whole new argument to the table.
As players have evolved over the last 20 years, they have gone from players just needing to be fit, to players not only needing fitness, but also needing strength and bulk. These two aspects form a large part of the modern game, sure there is skill, technique and speed, but strength and size are playing a much bigger part than they ever did. We watch week in week out as players like Webcke, Mason, Ryles and even backs like Tuqiri, Richards and MacDougall are trotted out by the clubs. These players are the power house players, the player with size and strength to go with all the other aspects of their games. It doesn?t end there, in an effort to combat these players, we are seeing more and more players bulking up, adding a bit of size to ensure they can compete physically in the comp.
What does the above statement have to do with knee injuries? Well I?ll tell you, as players bulk up they sacrifice one thing more than anything else, more than speed, more than agility, they sacrifice flexibility. When you add large amounts of muscle mass as league players do, you lose flexibility, which means when a player gets their legs twisted, they just can?t take the same in the way of flexibility as 20 years ago. I think we are seeing an increase in muscle tears, knee injuries and even ankle injuries due to decreased flexibility. Twenty years ago, a player that had their knee twisted or over extended didn?t suffer the same serious injuries we see today. Twenty years ago not much was done in the gym to bulk up players compared to the modern game.
There is only so much a body can take, and when you take flexibility out of the picture, injuries are just a matter of time. Meaning that when a league player gets rolled over, or tackled and his leg gets twisted, he pays for all the muscle he has packed on in order to compete physically. Simple fact is, that constant twisting and over extending becomes a players worst enemy without flexibility. This is why I believe we are seeing an increase in injuries relating to the knee and muscular regions.