Why Man Utd tread fine line with Van Persie fitness

Sports injury specialists Antonella Villani and Rebecca Garrod examine the injury problems that have plagued Robin van Persie and how Manchester United boss David Moyes has managed the Dutch strike
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Sports injury specialists Antonella Villani and Rebecca Garrod examine the injury problems that have plagued Robin van Persie and how Manchester United boss David Moyes has managed the Dutch striker this season.

 

Manchester United fans have worried endlessly about striker Robin van Persie's ongoing health problems. Ever since the Dutchman moved to Old Trafford in the summer of 2012, his importance to the team's attack has been growing exponentially. Until the unfortunate streak of groin and thigh injuries, RVP was unstoppable and his performance motivated his teammates, too. His prolonged ailments have taken a toll on everyone's nerves, but management and players remain undivided in their support for the Dutch striker. Although he has made a recent return, the question remains: Will Robin Van Persie be out with an injury again soon?

A STUBBORN STRAIN

The thigh is composed of different muscle groups which amount to a total of nine separate muscles, each of which works under immense pressure during a football game. Van Persie's persistent injury involves the hamstrings, which are a group of tendons attached to four major thigh muscles. They run from the hip, along the back of the leg and through the knee and play an active role in knee extension. The hamstrings are particularly vulnerable to repeated stress injury as well as contact trauma. Because they are in constant use - running, jumping, and regular walking all depend on them - these tendons take a long time to recover from any kind of contusion. This explains RVP's prolonged absence and on-and-off participation in matches as of late.

THE BUMPER ROAD TO RECOVERY

Depending on the severity of the strain (there are three distinct levels of trauma here), physiotherapy and a well-designed progressive exercise program are usually effective, but the time prognosis is just anybody's guess. Van Persie has been following a strict recovery routine, and Red Devil fans have been delighted to see him come to the rescue at several important matches already. However, patience is key here. At a moment in the team's personnel status when several key players have been struggling with injuries, it might be better to invest more time in van Persie's recovery than rush him back on the field and risk pushing him back onto the downward spiral of unrelenting muscle strain.

PATIENCE AND SUPPORT

Luckily manager David Moyes has been anything but pushy on RVP, letting him come back on his own time. He decides when to spring into action and for how long. In the race against injury, van Persie himself knows best when his body starts rebelling against the pressure, so it's wise to leave things in his hands. Still, chance and foul play from opponents complicate that equation and tip the scales in favour of keeping him out until a certain full recovery.

Anything else means putting too much on the line.

 

Manchester United mad Antonella Villani is a sports injury specialist at PhysioComesToYou - a London based physiotherapy clinic, founded by Rebecca Garrod.

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