Summary By Dev K. Mishra, M.D.
President, Sideline Sports Doc
Clinical Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, Stanford University
- Verheijen is an outspoken critic of many soccer coaches and often places the blame for athletes’ injuries on what he believes is improper player management and training from the coaches
- He believes many injuries are the result of overtraining, fatigue, or ramping training intensity too quickly
- This is an extremely entertaining podcast, well worth listening, but does lack some evidence so take it with a grain of salt
We are often asked by injured athletes to try and pinpoint the cause of injuries. Sometimes it’s pretty simple: a fall to the ground, or a hard tackle produces a bone fracture. But many times it’s not possible to accurately come up with a root cause to the injury. Take for example a noncontact ACL tear. We often say that it was just bad luck. But was it really? Raymond Verheijen believes that many injuries are due to improper training that results in muscle fatigue and susceptibility to injury. He goes as far as calling these injuries the result of “coaching incompetence”.
He believes that a disproportionate number of injuries especially in soccer occur at certain times in the season cycle: in the preseason after a time off from training; in the immediate return to sport after an injury layoff; and during a run of frequent games with limited recovery time.
We do have supportive scientific data for a number of his statements. For example, we do know that in some sports such as football there are higher numbers of injuries in the preseason two-a-days than there might be in the remainder of the season, and there is good evidence that in soccer there is an increased incidence of injury late in matches. The evidence is supportive but so far not completely definitive. One area where Verheijen gets it wrong is his belief that fatigue leads to slower nerve conduction velocity (meaning it takes longer for a nerve signal to reach the muscle). This does not happen, the most likely reasons fatigue affects performance are likely from loss of mental sharpness and possibly loss of muscle strength.
So take this interview with a grain of salt but it’s a really great discussion. I commend Captain U’s founder Avi Stopper for leading a balanced interview. It’s a controversial topic that will definitely make you think.