The increase in the number of pectoral injuries among professional sports stars
like Sonny Bill Williams has caught medical attention.
Griffith University sports physiotherapist Dr Richard Newsham-West said that
longer seasons and more games being played could be major factors behind the
“There has been a significant increase in reported injuries in the literature,” said
Dr Newsham-West, from Griffith’s School of Rehabilitation Sciences.
“This could reflect the increasing numbers of professional sports people and
athletes undertaking sport-related ‘at risk’ activities such as weight training.
“It could also represent the fact that our athletes are playing more games and
having a longer playing season that increases the exposure to an “at risk”
“Additionally, it may simply be that the medical teams have increased access to
better imaging technology that enables more accurate and rapid diagnosis of the
injury than in the past and hence more diagnoses are made.”
Sonny Bill Williams, a former All Blacks rugby player, heavyweight boxer and a
now returning rugby league player, smashed his shoulder into the turf late last
month after making a tackle playing for Japanese rugby club Panasonic Wild
Knights. He has since undergone surgery on the injury which could delay his
return to the Roosters NRL team.
Pectoral major muscle injuries occur more commonly in athletes and in younger
men. Commonly they are indirect injuries, occurring during activities such as
weightlifting. However there have also been reported cases of direct injuries
during contact sports.
“It is hard to tell how severe Sonny Bill’s injury is simply from the media but to
have surgery would suggest that it was a significant tear or even rupture,” said Dr
“The literature would suggest that there is a good recovery from this injury. As
Roosters doctor John Orchard has stated, pectoral muscle injuries on average,
take three to five months to recover, especially in contact sports like NRL, AFL
and rugby union, as well as in sports that require explosive upper limb strength