Sports Injuries: The Late Fitness Test Myth! - Paul Gough Physio Rooms

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Sports Injuries: The Late Fitness Test Myth!

So I was looking through the premier leagues list of injuries before writing this article – I use for my player injury news updates – and one thing stood out more than anything else.

And it was this: “late fitness test”.

Seems there’s a LOT of players injured in the premier league at the minute who are set to go through some tests to decide if they’re fit enough to play – actually on the day of the game!

Let me talk to you about this:

In my experience of working in pro-football, late fitness tests would only happen if we were playing at home (George Reynolds wouldn’t pay for the hotel room of a player who MIGHT NOT feature!) so it wasn’t something I had to do a lot of.

And besides, because players were on a bonus for appearing – it wasn’t something I ever wanted to encourage just in case I got it wrong!

Much safer just to rule them out the day before!


In the premier league it’s a bit different. But when you think about it, don’t you think that if they don’t think he’s fit on Friday, the player won’t be fit 24 hours later on the Saturday?

It’s not as simple as that.

See, often what happens is that the injured player – lets say someone suffering with a hamstring injury – will actually be “tested” on the Friday. And what the “late fitness test” does is just see how he has reacted from the day before.

They’re not really looking to see if he is fit, they’re looking to see if he showed any signs of pain or stiffness from what they did the day before – as they’ll often try and stress the muscle as much as possible – to see if it will break again or not.

So what will they do?

Pretty much put the player through all of the same things as the guys will do in the warm up – and they’ll be looking for ANY signs of things like muscles “cramping”, “twinging”, “biting” or just giving off sharp pains – when the player is at FULL sprint.

Because it’s all of those things that indicate whether or not something like a hamstring injury is good to go – or not.

Yet, most people assume that they’re fit from something like a hamstring injury based upon a lack of pain. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Most people – Sunday morning footballers are the worst at this – make the assumption that if an injury is not causing them pain, it’s not a problem.

But the reality of most sports injuries is that the pain goes after 7 days or so – or it becomes tolerable at least – but what you’ve had to do to decrease that pain, is limit what you do.

So, when you’re at work or walking or playing with your kids, the hamstring is never going to be “stressed” or stretched like it would be when you play – hence why you think you’re doing ok and fit to play!

Yet, when that ball is kicked or the sprint is on – if the muscle wasn’t quite strong or flexible enough because it didn’t heal properly, then chances are it will pop again.

So the fitness test is something I recommend you do, too.

Do it today if you’re a doubt for tomorrow.

Then see how it feels when you wake up. Test it again and only then decide for yourself if you’re good to go. Don’t make the mistake of telling yourself “there’s no pain, so it must be ok”.

With things like calf, Achilles and hamstring injuries especially – chances are it isn’t.

Paul Gough

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Article printed in the Northern Echo Newspaper, written by Paul Gough

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