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Cork v Corky

By May 12, 2024May 14th, 2024Ariella Posniak, Injury

A cork, corky, charley horse or even a dead leg. You’ve probably heard these if you’ve ever been knee’d in the thigh during a rugby tackle or hit with a puck during a hockey game.

What is a cork?

Corks are a big bruise to the muscle caused from a direct hit, usually to the thigh. It is a common injury often occurring in contact sports such as rugby, soccer and hockey. The area usually swells, may bruise and becomes tender to touch and stretch. Often you will be unable to continue playing due to pain.

What to do if you have a cork?

You will want to manage inflammation in the first 48-72 hours. During this stage you want to follow the acronym “POLICE”

  • Protect the area – remove yourself from play and use crutches if you’re unable to walk
  • Optimal loading – muscles and injured tissues need to be loaded to start the healing process, during this stage you can perform gentle stretches and muscle activation within pain free limits
  • Ice – frequent use of 20mins of ice throughout the day
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Intense stretching (pushing into pain), and “HARM” Heat, Alcohol, Running and Massage should be avoided during these first few days as they can increase bleeding and prolong your injury.

Once the initial pain and swelling starts to ease, the goal is to obtain full pain free movement followed by full muscle activation and strength, functional sporting activities and finally return to play. Some people like to use protective padding over the area once they return to play.

Do I need to see a physiotherapist?

Corks can often come with secondary complications if treated incorrectly. This can include missed muscle tears and/or the development of bony tissue within the muscle. This can result in longer rehab and a delayed return to play.

The key is early diagnosis of grade of severity, and guidance as to the optimum timing and intensity of return to activity. Corks can also be graded as mild, moderate and severe with these grades usually impacting on return to sport times. Physiotherapists can help accurately assess, diagnose, and grade your injury and give you advice and treatment to reduce your risk of secondary complications and get you back to playing your sport as soon as possible.

Corks or corky’s are common injuries which can cause a lot of pain and distress when they occur. Speaking to a professional and managing your injury properly can mitigate your worries and ensure the best and quickest return to sport pathway.



Author – Ariella Posniak (Mona Vale)

Ariella aims to support and work alongside her patients with a strong emphasis on patient centered care with a big focus on the individual’s goals. Her treatments include a combination of education and advice around diagnosis and prognosis, soft tissue therapy, joint mobilisations and personalized exercise programs. Ariella aims to provide exercises that fit into your schedule and align with your goals.

Click here to learn more about Ariella.