In Romo's Shoes: An inside view on rib injuries

When I heard that Romo had cracked ribs, I started thinking back to my days playing football.  Mostly I thought back to when I was living in Orlando, FL going to college there and just getting together with friends on Sunday morning and playing tackle football.  Now, we want to say full contact, but that is just lying.  Because no one is going FULL ALL OUT without pads on, and it was obvious a lot of times.  The reason I bring this up is because one of those times that we were playing, I sustained a bruised rib injury.  I hope to shed some light on the subject of what Romo and Witten are going through.  Now a cracked rib and punctured lung are a little more severe than a bruise and a little more caution should be taken.  The amount of pain may differ, but what causes the pain or just when you feel it is all still the same.  So let me shed some light on this.

This is an injury that is a little strange and very different from other ones.  It is one that is very commonly known for people to just play through as most of the time it is just a pain thing, however it is a DIFFERENT kind of pain.  If you can get through the pain and not allow it to affect your play, then normally a coach will allow you to play through it.  So let us see what exactly causes pain during a rib injury:

Getting hit: Just to cover all of the bases, this of course hurts.  Heck, it can hurt without a rib injury so this is obvious.  Nuff said...

Breathing: This I cannot emphasize enough.  It is EXTREMELY ANNOYING.  Like any kind of pain you just kind of get used to it after a while so you start to not feel it.  The body becomes accustomed to positions and things and it isn't until a noticeable change is made that it begins to hurt again, almost like a reminder.  But we all know that.  So breathing is painful, but what gets annoying is every time you start to run and your lungs work a little harder, your ribs start to hurt.  Every time you take a deep breath, maybe even when you yawn, they hurt.  Coughing is especially horrible, and when you laugh, ouch.  So in conclusion, when the play is over, Romo won't be hurting quite so much.  Its if he has to run around and really start breathing heavy that you'll see it.  It will be much worse if he tries to scramble and needs to change his breathing.

Changing body position/posture: A lot of us may have seen the piece of this weeks episode of Inside the NFL and saw how Tony Romo was when he was sitting there.  We even saw him during his post-game press conference.  He seemed to get through both just fine like nothing was wrong, however there were moments where you could notice his facial expressions and you knew there was some pain there.  You know, that look where it looks like you're trying to swallow the pain?  Seen that a few times from him and I know I did to when I had my bruised ribs.  The reason he can get through it just fine sitting down or standing up is because he isn't feeling it anymore at that point.  It isn't until he changes his body's position (sitting to standing, Lying down do sitting up, etc.) that he will begin to feel it, and this, aside from getting hit, is the worst of all of them because it just kills.  What many of you may not have seen on the episode of Inside the NFL is when they showed Tony getting up out of the chair, and many of the analysts now "weren't so sure if he would play" the next week as he looks extremely ginger in the manner that he did it.  That is just the nature of how it is with the injury though.  Once he stands up, all will be just fine.  As long as he doesn't sit down, he can avoid THAT BRANCH of the pain tree.

Raising the arms above the head: At least in my experience, raising the arms above the head is the only time this is really felt at all.  You can move the arms and stuff fairly freely, but once you go above the head, then it starts to hit you.  Now, with Romo, this all depends on which side he sustained the injury.  If it is on the right ribs, then yes this will factor a lot.  If on the left side then not so much.  Obviously this is because Romo is right handed and the left hand won't need to go above the head to throw the ball.  Originally it was thought that he sustained the injury in the second quarter on a blitz from Carlos Rogers on his blind (left side) but it was later discovered that it was the THIRD PLAY OF THE GAME where it came right up the middle and he had exposed the right side to the hit.  Now, I can't know for sure, but one would assume that it will be one of the right ribs that were cracked since that is where the player hit him, but it could have been, but highly unlikely, that the impact with the ground caused the injury to the left side.  Either way, he will only feel this during the actual throwing motion.  And since he has one of, if on THE quickest throwing motion in the NFL, this will be only brief.  It is just being able to concentrate all the way through the throw.  This is why you saw him throwing passes on the sideline before he came back in the game, so he could get used to the pain that is going to be there and finish the throw.

The only other thing to mention is that there is really know way to help a rib injury along.  You just have to monitor it and kind of let it heal itself.  You can't really put a cast around it or anything like that.  We do know that Unequal Technologies (the same company that provided the padding for Vick last year during his rib injury) has come to fit Romo AND Witten out to help protect them a little bit more.  The other thing to mention is that right now, and the way I had to deal with it, is I didn't get pain injections or anything like that.  Romo will get these in the game to get through this.  It will still hurt, but it will calm it down at least while doing normal things.  It won't help too much when he gets hit though, so this O-line is going to really have to do some great protecting this week against the Skins.  You also may see some creative playcalling by JGarrett to protect Romo a little bit as well.  Not necessarily conservative, just a little more Rib friendly and less likely that he even gets hit.

That is about all of the light that I can shed on the subject.  I do know how he feels though, and Witten too.  Rib injuries suck really bad just because you know they hurt, but it's something you can play through.  I think the only issue for Romo is the punctured lung part.  I didn't experience that, and if he isn't on the field, that is what keeps him off.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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