AISTS SPORT MEDICINE PODCAST #58
SQUASH IS A HIGH INJURY PRONE SPORT. MYTH OR REALITY?
Squash has been listed as the healthiest sport in the world – Forbes 2016, however it is a challenging sport for most beginners due to fear of injuries. Learn how you can have fun as the professionals do with a few simple tips to prevent Squash injuries.
In this AISTS Sport Medicine podcast, AISTS Class of 2019 Sandeep NAIR, Peter MARLETTE discuss injuries while playing squash.
Sandeep – Hey, Pete. It’s been nine months, time enough for a child to be born. Class is almost over and we have gone through so much in the last nine months but I still don’t see you hitting the squash courts. What’s going on?
Pete – Yeah. Sandy. I know, man. I have been telling you all year I was going to get out there with you. But I’m just going to come out and say it. I’m scared. You know I had that Achilles surgery about a year ago and I just don’t think I can risk it.
Sandeep – Achilles? I had no idea. Tell me more.
Pete I can’t believe it. You must be the only person in class I haven’t complained about it to. Yeah really, it was just bad luck, I guess. Just playing in a football match about a year ago and it was completely innocuous. I just took a step forward and on my right foot that was planted. I just felt a pop and went down. Sure enough, it was a fully ruptured Achilles tendon. Had the surgery to repair it I guess a little more than a year ago now. But it’s been a long recovery and I don’t know.
Sandeep- I didn’t know. But help me understand this. You have recovered right?. I’ve seen you playing football. What’s stopping you from playing squash.
Pete – Yeah. You’ve seen me playing football but. I’ve mostly been walking around the field you know and passing the ball when it comes to me and not really exerting myself. Not really taking any risks. You can do that on a football field but obviously you know this is not possible on a squash court. You can’t go easy. You’re constantly lunging constantly pivoting just seems like way too big of a risk and especially on an already weakened Achilles.
Sandeep – It’s very interesting you say that because I heard something exactly the opposite recently.
Pete – From Where?
Sandeep – It was in one of these interviews I was doing with the World Squash Federation. I was speaking to a data scientist there. These are his words and he was telling me how difficult it is to get squash out to the kids across countries and my natural reaction was, it’s probably because kids find it exhausting and demanding, which is why they don’t take to squash. It’s a high injury risk kind of sport. But he started laughing and said it’s more like an urban myth.
Pete – No I mean that anyone who’s played squash, you know this you play all the time. You know it’s bad for your knees it’s bad for your ankles it’s bad for your hamstrings you’re constantly lunging and pivoting there’s no way that that can’t be dangerous.
Sandeep – But I think the key factor is the term “anyone” because this is what the guy told me, that in the last 10 years, in a decade, only four full professional squash players have been seriously injured. I think the term “anyone” is key here.
Pete – OK, that’s interesting because I mean I’ve seen a lot of injuries on the squash court. I see pulled muscles. I feel like every other match I play in. But what you’re saying then is maybe at the elite levels it’s all right. But not so much for the amateur and recreational player.
Sandeep – Seems like that. I think we should do some more introspection and analysis on the topic.
Pete – All right, yeah. You know this actually, it’s interesting that you bring this up because back during our program I read an article did some research on Squash and Forbes in 2016 listed as the healthiest sport in the world. Players consistently have a heart rate of about one hundred and ninety BPM, run almost five kilometres per match and obviously do hundreds of lunges per match.
Sandeep – That’s incredible. I’ve seen a few professional games and you’re absolutely right. I think what these athletes do in court is insane.
Pete – Yeah. Yeah I remember reading also that most of the injuries in squash are caused by overuse. So you know the common major ones are to the ankles, the knees and the elbow. Also eye injuries are obviously common but that’s a quick fix. You just wear the protective eyewear and you should be fine.
Sandeep – That’s true, I have had niggles throughout the last 10 years when I played squash and what I normally do is just stop playing squash for a bit and it goes away. But every time I play intense squash for more than a month it seems to resurface .
Pete – You know I actually just found this article that I was referencing and yeah it says here. So it lists the number of injuries per thousand hours of play per racquet sport and tennis is 0.4 for injuries per thousand hours of play, badminton 2.9 injuries per thousand hours of play and squash 18 injuries per thousand hours of play. It’s significantly higher.
Sandeep – That’s incredible. 18 you said? So much more than badminton and tennis. But what are the sample type and persona for this kind of study.? Do you remember?
Pete – You know it looks like it’s players at all levels. So recreational, club, and amateur just a wide sample of squash players.
Sandeep – Yet at the elite level WSF says that it’s not injury prone sport? I think I know the answer to that. So historically squash was played on hard wood and there was nothing to absorb the impact of the knees and ankles. So which is why there were so many injuries in sport in squash. Now what they’ve done recently is they’ve changed the wooden floor to softer wood. They have also introduced rubber pads between the actual wooden floor and the concrete which absorbs all the impact on the knees, which is why I think the number of injuries have reduced drastically in the last 15 years.
Pete – Yeah that makes sense. I understand that with the technological advancements, the injuries have gone down but there are more injuries than squash at all levels. We just looked at those statistics it’s 18 per thousand hours that’s compared to less than one in tennis. I mean this technology has got to be readily available worldwide.
Sandeep – So yeah you’re right but I think that’s where we need to distinguish between the amateur and the elite athlete.
Sandeep – I think squash is intense. We know that it does take a toll on your body but I think the injuries are an outcome of other factors. So if you are overweight, if you have poor technique or if the swing is not correct. If you are not moving correctly, taking small steps or if you don’t have adequate rest between playing time. These are the factors which actually contribute to injuries in squash. I don’t think these issues happen to elite players. It seems to be more of an amateur kind of an issue.
Pete – Ok I get that but isn’t that true for all sports?
Sandeep – Fair point. But your data, that you just showed is completely agreeing with what I just said. Right? Because squash players are clearly 18 times more prone to injuries than other racket sports and since the stats are an amalgamation of amateur as well as elite athletes, it does make sense.
Pete – Ok, so I guess this is this is why we have the saying you don’t play squash to get fit you get fit and then play squash.
Sandeep – Absolutely, but I have heard that as well. 100% agreed.
You can find more AISTS Sport Medicine podcast on our Soundcloud channel or on the Apple Podcast app. To learn more about the AISTS Master of Advanced Studies in Sport Administration and Technology, visit https://aists.org/education/masters-degree/
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