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Quark: A Cure for Athletic Injuries?


Quark cheese in glass bowl on checkered white and yellow cloth

Felix Magath, the former manager of the Fulham soccer team in London, has recently been criticized for suggesting to one of his players that he should wrap cheese around his injured knee. The player, defender Brede Hangeland, came out with this story as part of a slew of criticisms following Magath being fired from the team, saying that he was “told to perch on the end of a massage table and spend the afternoon in that position with a slab of cheese carefully positioned on the sore spot.” 

Following the player’s accusation, Magath came out on his Facebook page not to deny the story, but to clarify that it was being blown out of proportion stating, “[Hangeland] had an injury to the knee (inflammation) and I mentioned that he could try using an old technique of wrapping the knee with quark, which is used to decrease the inflammation. I would never tell a Doctor how he should manage the injury to a player, but it seems that this story has been wrongly told and blown completely out of context.” 

Though soccer fans might be doubtful about Felix Magath’s cheese remedies, the practice of cheese-healing is apparently not unheard of. During the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, skier Lindsey Vonn badly bruised her shin and used topfen (the German word for quark) to reduce the swelling. Vonn told reporters she decided to try the quark treatment after hearing about the remedy while training in Austria. 

No one is sure whether it’s the texture of the cheese or some unknown chemical property that treats inflammation. According to Safdar of UW Hospital and Clinics, it is possible that the slew of Lactobacillus naturally found in the cheese would drive bad bacteria away from the wound.

Despite the critics and skepticism, the practice seems to work, and Vonn’s swelling did go down — maybe Hangeland’s would have too, had he listened to his ex-coach.

Photo Credit: Wisegeek.org

Jamie Ditaranto

Jamie Ditaranto is a senior at Emerson College and an online editorial intern for culture, who enjoys writing, photography, and travel. She finds a way to sneak cheese into just about every meal and is a sucker for free samples.