Back Pain Sport Physio: Is There A Link Between Michael Clarkes Injury & The Heart-breaking Death Of Phillip Hughes?

Is there a correlation between the recent Michael Clarke injury and the heartbreaking death of team mate and Australian Cricketer Phillip Hughes prior?

The severity was considered significant with media reports of:

  • “with the skipper admitting it had the potential to end his career” ABC News
  • “unfortunately it is quite a significant back injury. He hasn’t had anything like this for 18 months….” The Sydney Morning Herald
  • “….which revolves around Clarke’s future as a cricketer in any and all of forms of the sport?”

perth cricket sports physiotherapy

One of the major influencers of chronic back pain (like what Michael Clarke suffers) – from a sports physiotherapy point of view, is the psychological aspect.

This includes, but not limited to:

  • the persons belief system
  • the persons values
  • psychosocial stressors
  • quality of support network (family, friends, community, professional services)
  • the synchrony between body & mind


The meaning we associate to things in our lives ultimately controls the quality of our life. The meanings are shaped by our own personal psychology and our view on the world (the beliefs and values that we’ve created) – we all see and experience the world differently through our own lenses.


For example, two people may experience the same event (in the above case the heartbreaking death of Phillip Hughes):

  • one person may think “the world is punishing me, my world is shattered, I should probably die too”
  • the other person may think “the world is challenging me. This is the greatest gift I’ve ever received. I am going to use this event to contribute more, love more, experience more…the world will be a better place as a result of this event”


As you can see, the perceptual difference not only affects the quality of that person’s life, but also what action they will take next. Some of the Australian cricketers were seen as not ‘mentally fit’ to play in the next test match following the tragic event.


There are several factors that influence individual and collective beliefs and values. They include culture, media, relationship to land, gender, environment, education provider, religion or spirituality, family and friends.


Over the past decade I have comprehensively been through each factor above – as it benefits my clients when I take them on a journey toward creating a life that overflows with lifelong success and incredible fulfillment, while enhancing awareness of their physical health and how it affects many aspects of how they live.


A relevant example of how religion can affect our personal psychology – is the way we respond to the death of a loved one. When I was studying how religion impacts peoples beliefs and values (therefore the quality of their life), I visited a spiritual place called Varanasi in India, one of the oldest cities in the world. Thousands of Hindus go to Varanasi to die and be cremated by the holy Ganges River. It was fascinating to watch families celebrating the death of a loved one at 6am in the morning (pictures below) whilst cruising along the Ganges River – with their belief being it is a place providing an immediate entry to heaven for re-incarnation. In Australia, every individual responds to death differently, but usually it is the opposite of celebration.


australian physiotherapist in IndiaAustralian sports physio in Indiaaustralian physio in india









My question to you – what would be the (if any) differences between a cricketer from India (with Hindu religion) versus a cricketer from Australia (lets say non-religious) responding to the death of a loved one?


Once meaning is established, each individual will have a pattern of emotions that they associate to this meaning as their natural way of responding to an event or situation.

Patterns of emotions drive all meanings. We all know happy people who we like to be around, and we also know people who are consistently angry, sad or frustrated.


What drives our variety of emotions are three things:

  1. pattern of emotions = how you use your physical body – such as breathing, posture, and movement
  2. pattern of physiology = whatever you focus on, you will feel
  3. pattern of language = as soon as we put words to an experience it changes the meaning we experience


For the video clip below – I want you to answer three questions:

  1. How was Michael Clarke using his physical body – breathing, posture, and movement? (affect on his body?)
  2. What was his complete focus on? (affect on his body?)
  3. What words did he use? (affect on his body?)

(answers to the above questions = massive negative affect – particularly on the biochemistry of his body – negative cycle on his emotional state and mindset – hence talking about ending his career after an injury flare up)

Now to ask you the question we began with: Is there a correlation between the recent Michael Clarke injury and the heartbreaking death of team mate and Australian Cricketer Phillip Hughes prior?

Please note: when treating an athlete or client from a physiotherapy point of view – we examine many more factors than just the above – this article simply highlights that injuries can be complex and involve a variety of influencers, in this case personal psychology – other factors we commonly examine include:

  • lifestyle
  • genetic
  • patho-anatomical
  • physical
  • neurophysiological
  • sports demands
  • history of the athlete or client

The above is just a snippet into sports physiotherapy for back pain and other injuries. For more information, contact us today!


About the author of this physiotherapy article:

Scott Wescombe is a Peak Performance Coach and the passionate Director at iPhysioPerth. He has a physiotherapy degree with first class honours from Curtin University, an exercise & sports science degree from Edith Cowan University, and has dozens of other qualifications and certificates from successfully completing some of the best courses around the world. He loves helping people live incredibly!!!

Scott and his passionate team at iPhysioPerth commonly help athletes prevent injury flare-ups like Michael Clarkes through performance enhancing strategies like mindset training, creating awareness of how an athletes beliefs and values affect their performance, and the teaching of new unique skills.

iPhysioPerth is one of the most popular physiotherapy clinics in Australia due to two reasons:

  1. the physiotherapists dedicated commitment to achieving results for each client (not just symptom relief, where the problem is left untreated – costly to the client in health, happiness and finances)
  2. provide each client with an exceptional experience – backed up with a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.

If you value your health and want to live an incredibly fulfilled life – keep it simple, choose a physiotherapist at iPhysioPerth! You deserve an outstanding service and life!!