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Monday, April 11, 2016

Bubble Bump Bubble Bummed... Why Bubble Bump Soccer Is Not That Safe As Claimed

Disclaimer: I wrote this because of my own unpleasant experience and I'm in no way holding anyone else responsible for my injury but myself. I hope that anyone intending to play bubble bump would take note of all that they should know which isn't stated on the website and make a well informed decision of whether to go ahead with the game.

Two months ago on the Friday before Chinese New Year, our department had a Bubble Bump Soccer sports event after the department CNY lunch.

Some of you may have known that it was from playing Bubble Bump Soccer with my colleagues that I injured my knee and have never fully recovered till now. My closer friends also know that this knee injury has contributed greatly to the bouts of feeling upset about my overall health and physical well-being.

Let's look at some fun and happy pictures first before I elaborate more on how if I could turn back the time, I WOULD NEVER have played this stupid game.

This picture is fun coz everyone was spontaneously dressed in either black or in CNY bright colours like red, pink, orange and yellow whereas our boss was in between in shades of grey.

There are a few places to play this game in Singapore. We played it at The Cage @ Kallang. Before the game, there was safety brief and game instructions by the facilitator.

It was initially really funny to see my colleagues being bumped and rolling around. There were also instances of being flipped completely upside down with legs flailing in the air. Everyone outside of the cage kept laughing at the silly sight and some even took videos to enjoy after the event.

However, it wasn't exactly funny once you are in the bubble suit. Each game lasted only a few minutes and by then all of us were drenched in sweat. Unless you are some Greek god, there is no way you could play two consecutive games in a row. We definitely had to take turns because it was way too tiring.

Besides Bubble Bump Soccer, we also played Bubble Bump Invasion which was the more "violent" and competitive game.

Now we come to the 5 reasons why I hated being in the bubble suit:
  1. The bubble suit was damn smelly even after disinfecting. I almost died from the stench. It didn't help that the straps were fabric and most of the stench came from there. 
  2. It was really hot in the suit. Your perspiration would just flow out like the Niagara Falls all the way from head to toe. 
  3. I could hardly see through the suit even at the transparent parts. 
  4. It was very stressful on the body, creating severe strain even after a mere 5 minutes. For somebody who had been exercising regularly, I felt a huge strain on my neck, shoulder and back even with the safety straps on. In fact, the first bubble suit I was in had a practically useless pair of straps that kept slipping off my shoulders. The facilitator had tightened it to the max but the straps still kept slipping off. In the end, I had to use lots of arm muscles to lift the bubble suit to compensate for ineffective straps. I cannot imagine how this game is bearable for people who do not exercise regularly.
  5. The loose straps caused lots of velcro chaffing and totally spoilt the surface of my brand new Puma dri-fit top. 
The next and final bubble suit I had was much better. Straps that fit. No sweat stink except for chemical plasticky smell. Slightly lesser strain to neck, shoulders and back but same amount of sweat. This suit made the game more bearable until the accident occurred.


The Knee Injury

A colleague bumped into me and as I "flew" up, I felt and thought I heard a pop in my left knee. I felt as if my whole calf had pushed into my thigh thus creating a trauma in the knee and that pop sound.

As I lay down on my back flat in the bubble suit, I felt severe pain in the outer knee as I started to hyperventilate in the very stuffy suit.

Nobody knew what happened initially as there was a lot of commotion all around and it happened in a flash. On top of that, most of my colleagues' gaze were on the other side of the field where something unpleasant was happening too.

Now, the trick to getting up in that silly suit whenever I fell was to roll over with belly down and to kneel my way up to a complete stand. For the many times I fell, I could easily do that even with the whole weight of the bubble suit on my neck, shoulders and back, and with the restrictions at the thigh area.

After lying there with nobody noticing that I was having problems, I tried very hard to stand but I couldn't. I used every ounce of energy left in me to roll to my knees with all my might. I tried heaving myself up by alternating my legs, only to have my left knee give way and collapse each time I put pressure on the left.

My next instinct was to wiggle myself out from the bubble suit. I thought that with the weight taken off my body, I might just be able to stand.

With the hyperventilating, I was running short of air in the bubble suit. I knew I had to get out or I might just faint in the bubble. Yes, there is a hole at the top and bottom. But when you have been running around in a plastic suit all drenched in sweat and with heat radiating from your body within the bubble, you would definitely feel short of breath easier.

I tried very hard to wiggle myself out and when I was finally out of that stupid bubble and tried to walk, I crashed down onto the ground. I thought I was too tired and tried to stand again, my left leg trembled and gave way as I collapsed onto the ground once more and then the third time.

I then realised that I could no longer feel anything in my left leg as I witnessed my left leg trembling nonstop.

By then, some colleagues saw that I was sitting on the grass trembling and hyperventilating and started scrambling to my side. I tried to speak but no voice came out. Nobody knew exactly the extent of my knee injury as I kept pointing to it without speaking. I had never ever felt anything like this in my life. It was a mixture of pain, anguish at not being able to control my left leg and fear of what was happening to me. I felt incapacitated, like my left leg wasn't mine.


Why Bubble Bump Is Not That Safe

This game is claimed to be safe for both the young and old as long as you follow the simple rules or have no back injuries or other severe physical injuries.

I seriously beg to differ.

This game has since caused lots of injuries to physically fit people. After learning about my knee injury, I have friends telling me how people they know had sprained their ankle, twisted their knee, hurt or strained their back and neck and dislocated their shoulder from playing the same game!

My TCM and my friend's orthopedic doctor confirmed that this game is truly not as safe as claimed. The most common injuries are twisted ankles.

As stated on almost all Bubble Bump websites locally and internationally, the bubble suit is made out of durable material which will absorb heavy impact well with two straps inside the inner sphere for you to strap your body with for a secure fit, and two handles for holding on for additional safety.

Yes all these are just as safe as you can get.

If you were to look at the whole suit, your body is safely cocooned but the legs are vulnerable in the open and carrying more weight. Your legs, your knees, your ankles are bearing lots of unnecessary weight and pressure especially when you twist and turn with the bubble suit restricting your upper body movement which would normally react together with your legs to maintain stability.


How Acupuncture Treatment Helped

On the day itself, I could not even walk as my left leg would tremble and lock. My colleagues had to send me right up to my door step and helped me into my house.

Later that night, I made my way alone to the TCM for my first acupuncture ever. Guessed how I walked? I hopped on my right leg all the way from the cab to the clinic as the left simply could not take any pressure. Although I hated the nervy feeling of the acupuncture needles, I was amazed at the powers of Traditional Chinese Medicine! I need not hobble and could walk with a limp after the first treatment!

Pardon the flabby tummy and stumpy legs.



I spent the next few days of CNY celebrations in clothes that could match my ballerina flats and had to put on an ugly knee guard. For the next few weeks after the knee trauma, I could not even apply pressure on my left leg. My knee would shiver, jerk, lock and twist outward to the side, causing pain to the outer flesh, muscle, ligament (whatever those parts that are not the bone part of the knee are called).

The only thing I can do now is walk almost like normal. However, I cannot do lots of simple daily activities like going in and out of the car normally, boarding and alighting from a bus, chasing after a closing lift, standing too long on a long crowded commute to name a few. My knee continues to lock, jerk and twist outwards if I tried to do my normal activities that put pressure on the left side.

For the last 2 weeks, I had not experienced any jerking, locking and twisting but I could no longer bend my left leg normally or even use squat toilets. The flesh above and below the outer knee would hurt when bent.

Without being able to bend normally, I won't be able to attend my usual pilates class that involves lots of squats and bending of knees for goodness knows how long. Even the yoga classes that I attend involve lots of knee bending too. To think that I just signed up for a 2 year package in January!

I have since stopped all yoga and pilates lessons and in fact, all forms of exercise. I was just beginning to get into the regime of regular exercise, feeling a lot more positive about my health and getting myself more toned, only to have everything terminated by this stupid knee injury.

So far, I have undergone 3 acupuncture sessions and have an appointment with the orthopedic and sports clinic at a public hospital tomorrow.

From all that I have read on the Internet about knee locking and twisting, I self diagnosed my condition as some form of meniscus injury. The doctor affiliated to my organisation suspected an ACL tear.

I do hope that the diagnosis from the specialist would be more accurate and I hope a scan could be performed to make sure there isn't any loose bone fragments in my knee during the accident or a keyhole surgery is required to remove the debris. I'm praying for the best.

I actually do feel extremely lousy and very upset at myself for playing Bubble Bump.

My knee injury had added quite a lot of angst whenever I have bouts of depression. Maybe I'm using "depression" too loosely but to be very honest, I do get very depressed in phases especially in the domain of health.

I just want to lead a normal life.


Update after seeing the specialist today (12 April 2016):

: ( The knee orthopedic specialist confirmed that the knee injury is 100% an ACL tear. He did various tests and the 3 tests for ACL tear all proved positive.

: ( A torn ACL is not able to heal on its own. The specialist advised that if I were to continue rigorous sports, it would be sensible to undergo reconstructive surgery to repair the ACL. However, for non-athletes, it is perfectly alright not to go through this. I could still decide down the road if I want to opt for it.

: ( Suspected lateral meniscus tear.

: ( Suspected lateral collateral ligament tear.

: ) X-Ray scans revealed no bone fragments, thankfully! No need for debris removal surgery.

: | An MRI scan would confirm all suspicions and pinpoint the exact injuries though the specialist said that the scan is inconsequential to my physiotherapy treatment unless I am opting for reconstructive ACL surgery.

: | For now, I would go for physiotherapy sessions every week to build up the muscles to compensate for the lack of ACL support while allowing the meniscus and ligament tear to heal on their own. I would perhaps get a second opinion from the people there on whether I should opt for the ACL reconstructive surgery in time to come.

Sad max.


  1. Great pics Really interesting post...thx for sharing! xx

  2. Jo... do I know how you feel? I totally understand how you feel depressed over this... I didn't even do anything and my leg gave out in November... I was in severe pain... I found out much later it was my sciatic nerve. Thankfully my physio therapist has helped me greatly, I even had acupuncture too... It is 5 months later and I finally feel a better... but I have gained weight from the 'depression' and I have no stamina... I just want to live a normal healthy life too... I hope you feel better very soon and I am going to pick my walking again... no squatting for me though, my knew cannot handle it at all... hugs to you xox

    1. Launna Launna Launna... It is always great to find people who totally understand what you're going through because of similar situation. We completely understand each other's pain and anguish at not being able to do so many things. I have also out on flabs and I don't like it. I was reading up on sciatic nerve and it sounds like the pain is super intense. Do you have any spine-related problem? It is great that physio had helped you. TBH, I can't wait for my 1st physio session!

  3. Oh wow, I am so sorry that your knee was badly injured because of this, Jo. Something that was supposed to be fun and you ended up hurting this bad. :-(

    Shireen | Reflection of Sanity

    1. Yes, Shireen. It was supposed to be a fun and funny event that went horribly wrong for me. I really wished I didn't play it. =(

  4. I am so sorry that you were injured...I hope that you feel better soon!

  5. Oh no, too bad to hear it didn't go well for you! Hope all recovers smoothly. A co-worker of mine showed me bubble soccer a while back, and the first thing I said was that it didn't look that safe. He didn't agree, but there's definitely a chance for injuries to happen (though to be fair, that is the case with any sport!).

    1. Thank you, dear. The first thing I said when my colleague showed me bubble bump photos and videos was how silly everyone looked! I do hope people are more aware of the potential risks in playing this game.

  6. so sorry to hear about your knee injury! That stupid game should be forbitted by law. It is good that you have written about your experience because people need to be warned. We don't have bubble soccer here (as far as I know), but I will warn people nevertheless.

    Even a small injury can be very stressful because it gets in way to our life and your knee injury is pretty bad ( I'm assuming you're still struggling with it but I hope you're feeling at least a bit better by now). Make sure you make all the tests you need and always search for specialist's opinion. Last Winter I had a problem with my foot, it was swollen and painful for months and I couldn't wear anything but dr. martens. The scans didn't show anything and in the end the problem simply disappeared but I was really miserable while it lasted because when you're in a pain with every step you take, you can't avoid being affected by it.

    1. I'm always heartened to see when people understand how I feel because they also experienced similar problems. Oh man, feet is the one bearing the whole body's weight and it must have been terrible to feel such pain and even worse when the scans showed nothing. That's always the most anguished part. Great that your foot healed naturally though. It's been more almost 3 months now and while I'm slowly getting used to not being at my 100%, it still sucks to know that I cannot run any more.


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