The Joel Embiid Mystery (Solved)

While I’m not a big NBA fan, I am a HUGE NCAA Basketball fan, and specifically, a University of Kansas Jayhawk basketball fan. Typically around this time of year I tune in to the NBA Draft to see where any and all KU players get drafted.

Joel Embiid Back InjuryNext week’s NBA Draft will be no different, as two former KU players, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins are predicted to be picked within the first three picks of the first round. While the talent these two possess is undeniable, what everyone is questioning is the health of big-man Embiid.

Earlier this year, Embiid missed significant playing time, including the Big 12 Tournament and the Jayhawks’ NCAA Tournament games, with back pain from a stress fracture in his lumbar spine (side note–that article was written by my former Yale University baseball teammate, Matt McCarthy, an incredibly gifted write. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of his book Odd Man Out today. It’s a very funny and entertaining read and is very well written.). Now it’s being reported this morning that Embiid has injured his foot, and it’s presumed to be broken.

Most folks will read about Embiid and say he has a back injury and a foot injury. They separate the two injuries, considering them to be unrelated. However, I just can’t do that. Actually, I think they’re both directly related. I think they both have the same cause.

My hunch is that both of these injuries stem from his hip function, or more specifically, his lack of equal hip function between his left and right hips. I can say with almost 100% certainty, and without even looking at Embiid, that his hips are out of balance, they aren’t aligned properly, one is higher than the other, maybe his pelvis is tilted anteriorly and posteriorly differently, or maybe his whole pelvic girdle has rotated clockwise or counterclockwise. As a result, an imbalanced foundation puts his lumbar spine under an incredible amount of stress, and bingo…we have a stress fracture. His body knew things weren’t right and that lumbar spine simply needed a way to release the pressure it was under, and by design, it fractured.

I think the same thing happened with the foot. It’s just my hunch, but if and when the actual injury is reported, I’m guessing it too will be a stress fracture, (UPDATE: Since posting this, it has been announced that his injury is, in fact, a stress fracture) and most likely will be labeled a “non-contact” injury, meaning he didn’t fall, or get hit, or suffer some terrible accident like falling down three flights of stairs. I’m guessing he was going through his pre-draft workouts and felt something strange. May it was a “pop.” Maybe it was a sharp pain. Regardless, his draft stock has taken a hit, and he’s labeled injury prone.

However, I don’t believe he’s “injury prone.”

I don’t believe there is anything “wrong” with his low back.

I don’t think his feet are fragile and that they will have a hard time withstanding the pressure of carrying his 7′, 240-pound frame up and down the court.

I don’t think he will always be hampered by nagging little injuries throughout his career…

As long as he addresses the cause of the problems.

It’s imperative that he address what is, undoubtedly, a hip imbalance. Think about it this way: You wouldn’t ignore the front-end alignment of your car if you knew you had one tire that was wearing unevenly. Yet, that’s essentially what’s happening with Embiid. First one tire went bald (lumbar spine stress fracture) and now another tire is showing signs of uneven wear (today’s report of the broken foot).

It’s pretty simple, really. Remember, rarely is the site of the pain the source of the pain. It’s time Embiid get to the source.

QUESTION: What are your thoughts on the Embiid injuries?