Athlete Injury Story 😔
Melissa’s shin splints started in 11th grade. She played soccer year round. It progressively got worse and by the time she got to a Division 1 college program, the shin splints had turned into Compartment Syndrome. The worst part about all of this was she knew something was terribly wrong. Her feet were going numb and tingling at every practice...but people kept telling her to “Stretch”. The coaches and everyone else were too busy trying to win to give quality time, energy, and attention to help their star player feel better (a bit oxymoronic if you ask me). Side Note: Stretching but refusing to REST is like ordering a big mac and fries at McDonald’s and then uttering the request to the cashier, “And a water, please.” The stretching, like the water, is obviously good for you, but it will do very little to “combat” the excessive running, or in the food case, the big mac and fries. Melissa had to sit out most of her freshman year. How deflating! D1 scholarship and you cannot even play your first year. And because she had some not so helpful nor inspiring coaches, they wrote her off and sat her on the bench in the spring since she was unable to participate in the fall. Fast forward to the summer before her sophomore year…she recently had to have two surgeries to have a chance at correcting the compartment syndrome, but the issue is still there. She is having numbness and tingling when she cuts or sprints. The damage is done. She is in the middle of making one of the hardest decisions she has had to make up to this point in her life: to save her body for the next 65+ years of her life by quitting the game she loves earlier than she should have to. And this is at least in part because of all the wear and tear on the same muscles, tendons, and tissues over the past 10+ years, without adequate recovery done consistently season after season, year after year. I don’t know it all but I do know that coaches, trainers, and sports performance coaches will have to place heavier emphasis on recovery and injury prevention if they want these stories to slow down. Melissa is one of many... What we expect and tolerate, we get more of. We’ve started to normalize and even expect serious injuries as well as chronic, nagging injuries. The 1st kind sidelines your athlete and exposes how much of their worth was actually on the field, while the 2nd just stinks...it causes your all-star player to perform at 80-85% of his or her potential. We need to turn the ship around. It has to stop right here. Normalizing injuries and constant pain is not okay, but we are all guilty. How can you balance striving for greatness at all costs with proactive care and doing what is best for the future of these young men or women? Can you have peak performance and health? I’d argue that without the former, you cannot have the latter... What lies at the root of this problem is that you and I are bad at doing things today that prevent bad things happening tomorrow. Instead it is, “What fills my bucket NOW? What will make my player run faster, shoot harder, play better NOW?” I have a theory... there are two overlooked things happening at the root of athletic injuries. Until these two things are addressed, injury rates will continue to rise and stories like Melissa’s will keep occurring. I’ll share those 2 theories in the next blog!