Strained Groin, Exploded ACL, and Wrenched Back—a Tasting Menu of Football Injuries

The stadium scene.
June 25 2013 12:15 PM

A Bit of Strained Groin and a Dash of Trick Knee

A tasting menu of pro football injuries.

Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings punts the ball against the New Orleans Saints during the NFC Championship Game at the Louisiana Superdome on January 24, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Chris Kluwe in 2010, as a Minnesota Viking

Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Playing sports all my life has made me quite familiar with the multiple flavors of pain a body can experience. Some hurt worse than others! Here is a tasting guide to all the wonderful sensations I’ve been lucky enough to feel, most of which lasted an entire game or longer (some of them much, much longer).

Strained Groin

Strained Groin has a spicy yet long-lasting bouquet filled with aromas of Grimacing and Wince. It starts out with a small gremlin perched right above the hip dancing around on needle-tip claws that gently sink into the tendon with every motion. When the muscles are engaged to punt a ball, the gremlin pulls out a white-hot sword and plunges it into the inner thigh, producing a sharp jolt of burning stabbityness. Thankfully, this lasts only for a brief second; unthankfully, it’s replaced by him spinning the sword around like a high-rpm drill bit when foot hits ball. Then he leaves the sword there, still whirling away. The next time punting is required, he grabs another sword (I have no idea where he keeps all of them) and repeats the process. I recommend Strained Groin for those wishing to experience the joys of castration without the permanency.

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Exploded ACL (Nonkicking Leg)

This wonderful selection has a deep, harsher taste —reminiscent of a piston hammering down on an exposed nerve—that ends with a grinding twist, similar to popping a chicken drumstick away from the thigh. Exploded ACL (Nonkicking Leg) is immediately recognizable to observers by its beautifully rich color of Writhing and Clutch, complemented by a brief flash of Scream. The subsequent six months (postsurgery) are a harmonious medley of dull lead-swollen aching, bright nails-on-chalkboard pain spikes, and absolute-zero icicles spearing under the kneecap when too much pressure is applied. I recommend this vintage for those not wanting to walk for an extended period of time.

Exploded ACL (Kicking Leg)

Similar to Exploded ACL (Nonkicking Leg), Exploded ACL (Kicking Leg) starts off with a buckling wrench, much like stepping down on a surface that is no longer there. Warm stiffness immediately envelops the senses; it’s initially misleading due to its remarkable similarity to Strain or Tweak but recognizable by a true connoisseur as the piquant bursts of weakness and instability creep through. Attempting to kick a football is much like swinging your leg through a cloud of marshmallow—much energy is expended, but the resulting punt is generally slow and less than ideal. Exploded ACL (Kicking Leg) is a longer-lasting vintage, potentially anywhere from three to six weeks, depending on willpower and pertinent information shared by doctors, but it eventually gives way to the familiar taste of Exploded ACL (Nonkicking Leg) (postsurgery). I recommend Exploded ACL (Kicking Leg) for the experienced professional only, as too much exposure can lead to deleterious side effects, including Permanent Dragfoot.

Sprained Ankle (Various Types)

Sprained Ankles come in multiple flavors, but they all share the common theme of sick nausea creeping up the leg intermingled with piercing lightning bolts whenever weight is borne on the affected area. This is a more subtle flavor than the previously mentioned injuries, and one that can sneak up on the palate most surprisingly, oftentimes catching the subject quite unaware and

leaving him breathless. Trying to punt with Sprained Ankle is particularly unique when the sprain is located on the kicking foot. The appendage in question tends to flop around like a gasping fish stranded on the deck of a boat, and the ball acts as a gaff hook that dashes its brains into oblivion, leaving it limp and lifeless. A delicate filigree of acid etches its way up the nervous system and slowly settles in, pulsing gently in time with the rhythm of one’s heartbeat. I recommend Sprained Ankle to novices and experts alike, as it never really loses its initial surge of vivacity, no matter how many times you experience it.

Wrenched Back

This is one of my personal favorites, as it provides the tight, winding constriction of a barbed-wire boa constrictor along with a passive helplessness infused into its entire core. Trying to accomplish even the simplest of tasks can lead to an overwhelming flurry of sensations coursing throughout the entire body—dominant strains of Gasp and Sob overriding the more earthy tones of Gritted Teeth and Indrawn Breath, with Withered Hunch underlying them all. Wrenched Back can be enhanced by the application of an epidural, which feels like a drainpipe being shoved into your spinal cord. This will quickly drown out and numb the other flavors, though, so beware of using it before you’ve experienced the full suite of Wrenched Back. I recommend this one to anyone wondering what utter frailty feels like.

Pulled Hamstring

I’ve had the joy of encountering this delightful mélange of sensations multiple times, and it always delivers a zesty punch. The first taste concentrates all the senses into a tightly packed knot of jagged steel edges trapped halfway along the back of the leg, like a small caltrop buried tightly within the flesh. Any sort of strenuous motion sets the barbs in deeper and deeper, radiating concentric tremors of spastic fire into the surrounding muscle fibers until a dull flame has engulfed the entire backside. Kicking with Pulled Hamstring is breathtakingly invigorating, and I cannot stress the breathtakingly part enough. I urge anyone who wants to feel the physical snapping of a rubber band within his body to try Pulled Hamstring, but set aside several weeks of quality time to recover from the riotous sense explosion.

Trick Knee

Trick Knee is perhaps the most intense of the flavors, not due to its initial impact, but because of its sustained presence. It starts out fairly strong—the kneecap slides over to the side while the meniscus folds itself underneath, producing a sudden contraction of the entire body due to the feeling of dislocation welling up. A surge of tight restriction emanates from the locale as tense muscles quiver like overtuned violin strings, and the feeling of shifting the kneecap back in place is very similar to cracking a knuckle (and in fact can produce an audible pop, adding a delightful aural component to the mix). The brief absence of pain gives a delicious juxtaposition to the grinding of bone on bone when the knee is bent and used once again, much like two pumice stones rubbing against each other. Short, shooting stars of stabbing light randomly flash through the joint for days thereafter, giving the overall sensation a long, dry finish. I recommend Trick Knee for anyone searching for ways to entertain children and horrify medical professionals when they test for ACL stability.

These are but a few of the countless items in my personal reserve. Some vintages are longer lasting than others, some are yet to be discovered, but all of them are unique in their devilish complexity. I recommend pairing any of them with large amounts of morphine.

Excerpted from the book Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies by Chris Kluwe. Copyright © 2013 by Chris Kluwe. Reprinted with permission of Little, Brown and Company.

Chris Kluwe is the author of Beautifully Unique Sparkleponies. He is a punter for the Oakland Raiders.

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