Stretching the imagination

Andy Munro puts the pains of the injured footballer into Room 101.

As an elderly 64 year old footballer, the elasticity in my muscles would make Michael Owen’s hamstrings have seemed like those of a trapeze artist. Yet in the old days, rectifying a muscle injury was a simple matter. Either rub in a devilish ointment like Fiery Jack which applied a heat so fierce that any other pain seemed a mere trifle or apply a cold sponge from the trainer’s bucket, a practice now outlawed by FIFA bureaucrats as something that could cause an outbreak of bubonic plague.

These days, a more sophisticated approach is advised but as I become more and more acquainted with the muscle doctors, I have no hesitation in placing them in room 101 under the title of ‘Physios and other muscle quacks.’ This is because in this supposed enlightened age of medicine, it seems that there are still two conflicting schools of thought on how to treat an injury.

Firstly there is the “wait for 72 hours before hammering the muscle to an inch of its life” philosophy aimed at breaking up any scarring tissue and then following up with more vigorous treatments to lay down the muscle fibres smoothly and evenly. The big problem is that it is a depressing scenario of taking ten paces back before moving forward.

The other school of thought favours the ‘gently gently’ approach where an electro pulsing machine is used to stimulate healing blood flow whilst the physio goes through his money for old rope routine as he leans casually on the machine while chatting congenially. Both schools of thought happily diss each other but to make matters worth there is further conflicting advice on injury prevention.

Some say exercises to stretch the muscles can lengthen them improving tone and flexibilty whilst others say, it has minimal benefit and is basically a waste of time. The whole scenario would be laughable if the treatment sessions weren’t so expensive.

I won’t even go down the road of osteopaths and chiropracters whose mantra is often, it will feel worse before it gets better….not exactly a cure to look forward to. Interestingly, on my one and only visit to a chiropractor, he wheeled out a machine to measure the heat spots on my back, quickly followed by a print out showing these problem areas. It was either a brilliantly innovative contraption or the sort of thing that should be set up alongside a palm reading machine in the local amusement arcade.

Next time I get injured, I think I’ll stay at home with an ice pack and a tube of Ralgex.