Do Niggles Matter?

Do niggles matter?

The short answer is yes. Unfortunately niggles do matter!

That tight hamstring, the pain in your knee that comes and goes, that annoying back pain that interrupts your day slightly. It might not affect your ability on the football pitch, but these niggles add up.

Niggles are not formally injuries, but they are your body’s way of telling you to be considerate. They might not impact on your ability to train or play, but they’re noticeable before and/or after (or the next morning)! 

The next question you might ask is; why should this matter? Your risk of injury is increased.

Why does preventing an injury matter? Read here…

For more on the “niggle” information, read on below.

A recent Australian study included NSW football clubs at a semi professional level across a season. Players were asked to complete a questionnaire every week with a simple set of questions about whether or not they were in perfect physical condition.

Q1: Have you had any difficulty participating in normal training/ competition in the past week?
Q2: To what extent have you reduced your training volume due to the above?
Q3: To what extent has injury, illness or other affected your performance in the past week?
Q4: To what extent have you experienced symptoms/ health complaints during the past week?

Most of us would report something for at least one or two of those questions, even if the answer is “to a minor extent”

They also collected information about how much training each player was exposed to and when someone was actually unable to train or play due to injury or illness. These were called “Time-Loss” injuries, while reporting an injury but still training was called a “Non-Time-Loss” injury, otherwise known as a niggle.

The study showed that in the presence of a minor issue (ie. niggle) that affected performance or ability to participate in a session, a player’s risk of a time loss injury within the next 7 days was 3.5x greater than normal.

They further showed that a moderate reduction in participation equated to a 7x greater risk of missing a training session or match in the following 7 days. 

Amazingly, over 25% of players were reporting a niggle each week, not always the same person (but we all know that one person that’s always injured). This means that those players were far more likely to suffer an injury that keeps them out of the game in the next week!

So, what do you do about it?

Prevent. Here’s how.

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