First it’s just a slight pain. You ice it, take some Advil, and go on with your life. As you start to play your sport, the pain gets worse and worse as time goes on. Finally the pain is so bad, you go to the doctor. The doctor tells you that you have a serious injury and are not able to play your sport anymore.
About 1.35 million teens a year suffer from sports related injuries according to USA Today.
The most common reason a player gets benched from their sport is because of a sport’s related injury as reported by USA Today. Since sports are a major part of teens’ lives, when they are not able to participate in their sports anymore, it takes away part of their identity.
“Athletes love participating and competing in sports, so when an injury puts them on the sidelines, it can be mentally very tough for them” said, Kathryn Ackerman, who specializes in sports medicine at Boston’s Children’s Hospital, in an email interview.
Some of the most common sports that can lead players to sports related injuries are “the more contact sports,” said Katie Covell, strength coach at Milford High School and Athletic Based Training, in an email interview. “So football, hockey and soccer would probably have the majority of injuries I have seen.”
One of the most common injuries that athletes suffer from is “knee pain- patellofemoral syndrome. Also concussion and overuse injuries,” stated Ackerman.
“Knee injuries such as ACL tears and ankle injuries,” are frequent injuries that Covell has seen in athletes.
Holliston High School Junior, Jessica Williams, has suffered from a sports related injury. She suffers from a chronic ankle sprain and tendonitis. She got the injury during seventh grade soccer tryouts.
“I will never be able to go back to soccer because I have missed so much time that my skills are not up to par. Also I can’t control the ball with my brace on,” said Williams.
Williams is one of many teens who is not able to participate in her favorite sport anymore. “I was upset when I found out that I could not play soccer anymore. I really enjoyed playing, and finding out that I was no longer able to play was a devastating loss,” declared Williams.
Even though athletes suffer from sports related injuries, some are able to return to their sports. “Most athletes I have seen with sports related injuries do fully recover,” said Covell.
Ackerman stated that she has seen many athletes recover from injuries, and that athletes “just need to be smarter about their training” when they return to their sports. “Physical therapy and doing the rehab home exercises can make an athlete stronger when he/she returns to the game,” added Ackerman.
Covell stated that the athletes she works with “require a personalized program” for their injuries. Covell “works on rehab and strengthening their areas of weakness in order for them to return to full activity.”
Playing the same sport all year round causes athletes to be more prone to injuries. “It is important to mix up activities to minimize overuse injuries, to work on coordination, and to correct muscle imbalances and burnout,” said Dr. Ackerman
Covell agreed with Dr. Ackerman and said that athletes who play the same sport all year long “are more prone to injury because they are overtraining all the same muscle groups. Athletes who play multiple sports are less likely to get injured because they train different areas for different sports.”
Athletes also need to be aware of their bodies after returning from an injury. “Athletes recovering from injuries have to make sure the injury is fully healed before returning to their sport. Otherwise they are at a high risk of re-injuring or worsening their progress that has been made,” said Covell.
Sports related injuries have many long term effects and causes athletes to suffer, even if they are fully cleared. “I am in constant pain” stated Williams. She is technically cleared from her injury, but the pain is still evident in her ankle, especially when she participates in other sports.
Williams has to wear a brace while doing any physical activity to make sure her ankle doesn’t get injured again. In addition, Williams also has had to go to physical therapy since seventh grade to help her ankle recover.
Williams’s ankle still bothers her to this day, even though her injury happened four years ago. She plays on the HHS volleyball team and softball team and said, “My ankle bothers me when I play volleyball because I have to jump a lot. It also bothers me in softball because when you bat you have to twist your foot and when you pitch you drag your foot.” She also added that she can’t run long distances because of the pressure it puts on her ankle.
Despite the challenges that result from these injuries, there are ways to prevent them. “The best way to avoid injuries is to make sure you properly stretch before and after activity. You should also make sure you are hydrated and eating properly. Injury prevention exercises to strengthen ankles, knees, shoulders are also important,” said Covell.
Dr. Ackerman also stated that the best way to avoid injuries is to “eat well, take rest days, and cross-train. Conditioning programs, like what we have at the Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, can be helpful to ensure proper fitness, strength, and flexibility.”
Athletes may suffer from sports related injuries, but they are able to prevent or recover from injuries. If athletes are smart about their training and live a healthy life, they are at less of a risk of getting injured and being benched, and are able to stay involved with their sport. “Many injuries affect the lives of athletes and can be career ending if the athletes are not smart about their training,” stated Covell.