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Sports injury alert: sneezing

Spring is here, and with it comes allergy season — and, apparently, a little-known rise in the risk of athletic injuries. The Canadian Press has a hilarious article [07/2010: LINK DEAD] on sneezing injuries, following Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Ricky Romero’s recent sternutatory abdominal strain. This is serious stuff (or, as the writer inevitably put it, “nothing to sneeze at”):

“When you sneeze, it’s that thrust of a movement that can throw a rib off and you usually feel it in your back as opposed to your abdomen,” says Cindy Hughes, a certified athletic therapist and manager of the Sport Injury Clinic at York University in Toronto…

“You just have that explosive movement and all of a sudden: bam, it’s going to hit you.”

The take-home message, from University of Toronto sports medicine doctor Doug Richards: learn to ward off sneezes by pressing your finger against your upper lip. But don’t stifle the sneeze once it begins, since that causes even higher pressure.

So… has anyone out there experienced this? [cue sound of crickets chirping]

  1. Jeremy
    May 10th, 2009 at 02:31 | #1

    I haven’t heard of any injuries involving sneezes, but one of my friends once injured his back while coughing (he had a cold at the time). It sounds hilarious—and I’m pretty sure I laughed out loud when he told me—but it really did happen. So I suppose it isn’t too far fetched to imagine someone injuring him/herself while sneezing.

  2. alex
    May 10th, 2009 at 02:40 | #2

    Haha! That’s just one of those injuries that don’t earn the sympathy they deserve. But I have to admit, I had a sports hernia several years ago, and if I ever coughed while I was running, I’d get serious pain in my lower abdomen. So clearly there are some strong forces involved that affect lots of different muscles.

  3. Marie
    June 16th, 2009 at 03:01 | #3

    It may sound very funny but it can happen. I was 6 months pregnant at the time so was unable to take my normal allergy symptom medication. Pollen counts were extremely high and I had a reaction to it. First sneeze nothing, second sneeze my side hurt a little, third sneeze sharp pain down my side and I heard a popping sound. Turned out the sneezing had indeed caused enough added strain that I ripped a muscle in my side.

  4. alex
    June 16th, 2009 at 13:09 | #4

    Wow, it must be more common than I realized! Hope you’ve fully recovered. Maybe your sneezing muscles were out of shape since you usually took allergy medication — sort of like suddenly lifting a bunch of heavy weights after not using your arms for a few years…

  5. Marie
    June 21st, 2009 at 01:10 | #5

    More than fully recovered, that baby is now 19 years old. I do still get sneezing spells with my allergies that will sometimes get painful but thankfully no more actual injuries

  6. debra
    July 30th, 2009 at 05:28 | #6

    My allergies are very bad this year. I have been sneezing strong. Last week when I was sneezing I heard a popping sound – Now i have TMJ – my skull and jaw are out of alignment. So now along with my weak bladder I have this!

  7. March 2nd, 2010 at 17:12 | #7

    I know one person that incurred a serious sneezing injury that was attributed to bulging or slight tear in the tissue of the back at the L5-S1 vertabrae level. But it’s the vocal cords that drive me up the wall. People who feel it necessary to include their vocal cords through the sneeze – ear piercing!

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