Heung-Min Son speared by “The Spanish Archer”

heung-min son elbow fracture injury
With Expert Insights From

On form, on Son…..

Six in his last 5, the Champions League quarter-finals just around the corner, Kane hamstrung and no centre-forward signing during the January window, then all of a sudden, Spurs UNDROPPABLE man has been speared by the deadly “Spanish Archer” and given the “El-bow”.

The Perfect Storm:

  • 32 games already this season
  • Previous Elbow Injury
  • Contact with an opponent
  • Fall on an outstretched hand

Surely this is a schoolboy error by Mourinho???

They said he had it all: speed, power, technical attributes and an unerring ability to be in the right place at the right time. And they were right: he is an exceptional player, some would say one of the best in the world. But he’s not Superman. With Kane injured, Jose Mourinho placed all his eggs in one South Korean basket, and under his tutelage, he started every game when not suspended. So there you go, high game load, previous injury and the correct mechanism to inflict a proximal radial fracture. I’m surprised you’re surprised he got injured!!! Why not plan for the worst and hope for the best? Why did Mourinho not sign a proven goalscorer in the January window? Is this amateurish? I’ll cover this in The Late Fitness Test Podcast with my cohosts Ben and Stel.

How bad is this injury?

Radial fractures are the most common fracture at the elbow. This type of injury was first reported over 80 years ago in the New England Journal of Medicine; it is still a topic for debate on how to best manage this injury. The radius is an extremely important bone of the forearm. If injured it pretty much renders the rest of the arm useless. It provides vital stability and movement at the elbow and governs function at the wrist and hand. Suffice to say, an injury to it can be quite debilitating. An important note to also bear in mind is that radial fractures are often associated with other injuries including ligament and cartilage damage as well as damage to the other bones around the elbow joint. More trauma may lead to a delay in return to play is what I am getting at.

The Surgeon

Mr Alun Yewlett, a recognised expert in the field of shoulder and elbow surgery, reports that an operation is usually required if the bone has been displaced. In an interesting conversation around this type of injury and the need to go under the knife, Alun believes that the key to a successful surgery is to “restore stability at the joint”. Alun also forecasts that “when surgery is involved” and depending on which repair option was chosen, these cases are more likely to need “between 10-12 weeks before returning to play”.

Where is the proximal radius?

The proximal (closest to the head) part of the radius can be found at the elbow. The radial bone runs the length of the forearm down to the wrist on the side of the thumb and forms two joints at the elbow and one further down at the wrist. The other bone of the forearm is the ulna.

When will he return to play?

Six weeks might be a best-case scenario while some people can take up to three months to recover from such an injury. Obviously, a lot depends on how severe the initial trauma was. The more trauma, the more likely it will take longer to recover.

According to injury analyst Ben Dinnery, Heung-min Son suffered a similar injury (same arm) in the summer of 2017. He returned to play nine weeks later (61 days exactly). Further interrogation of the data by Ben reveals that he is the only attacker to have suffered this injury in the Premier League in the last ten years. Over 63% of players to incur this type of injury or similar were goalkeepers and defenders. And of note his teammate Hugo Lloris recently spent 109 days on the sidelines due to an elbow dislocation.

Premier Injuries

If like me, you love your injury stats, then check this out for size:

  • Arm/Elbow account for Five of the Top Six time-loss injuries for the Upper Body
  • On average Goalkeepers spend 75% longer (vs Outfield) on the sidelines after suffering an Upper Body injury.
  • Overall Upper Body injuries count for 12% of those reported by Premier Injuries.

Rehab Like A Pro:

The key to quick and safe recovery is to get the arm moving as soon as possible to limit stiffness, reduce stiffness and minimise muscle loss. The rehab around the elbow itself will focus on:

  • Minimise infection risk
  • Protect the surgical site from re-injury
  • Optimise Bone remodelling
  • Pain reduction
  • Grip strength
  • Functional strength
  • Range of Motion

If the fracture site is deemed stable, and surgery is relatively unremarkable, the likelihood is that Son’s elbow will not be placed in a cast, and instead, be placed in a removable splint which will enable early gentle movement to begin as soon as possible. When he returns to train and play, the medical team will need to come up with an innovative solution to not only protect the elbow from future injury but to also ensure that it will not endanger the safety of the other players.

Over the coming few weeks, I will detail the type of rehab that he will undertake in our Rehab Pro Series and you can check out all the exercises he is likely going to do on our YouTube Page:


Hope you enjoyed the piece guys. Love to hear your feedback.

Best wishes

Johnny Wilson

Clinical Director

108 Harley Street