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Paying Attention to Niggles

‘It’s just a niggle’. ’I’ll be alright, it’s nothing major’. 

I was able to keep playing, I’ll be good for next week’…

Does this sound familiar? 

Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘listen to your body’?

Well, here is some research to support that players, coaches, parents and health professionals should start paying more attention to these common niggles!

A study by Whalan et al. (2019) found that an injury that resulted in time loss for a player was 3 to 7 times more likely to occur 7 days after a niggle was reported.

In the study a niggle was referred to as a non-time loss injury, and was classified as either minor (when a player was able to continue and fully participate in training), or moderate (still able to continue training however at a modified capacity). A time loss injury was defined as an injury that resulted in a player not being able to participate in training due to the injury.

What does this mean? Well reporting of a niggle may actually help to identify those players who may be at an increased risk of injury. It is important to note that a niggle should not be solely used to predict whether a player may experience a time loss injury. Rather it could be used to flag a player who might be at risk. 

Early recognition from a player, coach, parent and/or medical staff is recommended in order to minimise potential time loss due to injury, and to optimise sporting and athletic performance.

So very simply, listen to your body!



Whalan, M Lovell, R & Sampson, J 2019, ‘Do niggles matter? – increased injury risk following physical complaints in football (soccer), Science and Medicine in Football, vo. 4 , no. 3, pp 216-224. 


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