I heard a story the other day about someone who injured their ACL in a semi-final, getting their knee ‘taped up’ so they can play the grand final. It got me thinking about injuries. **
As seasons progress, more and more injuries can happen. Some are acute injuries, that is, they are injuries that happen due to a specific incident (often ankle). Some are overuse injuries, that is, injuries that happen due to the repeated use of a weakness in an athlete’s physical structure or movement pattern. Some are injuries that have just been there for years, and never fixed. For all of these types of injuries there is a clear solution.
First – Diagnose. When something hurts it is your body telling you something is wrong. The important thing to do is to find out what is wrong so you can then work out how to fix it. Doctors diagnose, so find a good sports doctor and workout what is wrong.
Second – Treat. Once you know what is wrong, work out a plan to fix it. This will involve both exercises to stop it from happening again, and treatment to help speed the healing and prevent it from coming back. Sometimes the critical component of treatment is rest, which is allowing time for your body to heal.
Third – Review. Once the treatment has stopped, and the exercises have done their job, review the area that was injured to ensure it will not happen again. If it has NOT healed properly, then the entire process needs to be reviewed and you go back to the Second stage.
Injuries are not the price that is paid to play sport. Most overuse and acute injuries are avoidable by coaches. And long-term injuries, that is, athletes playing with pain for months and years, are the result of a severe breakdown in the injury management process. It simply shouldn’t happen.
Regardless of coaching children or adults, the coach has a responsibility to help players avoid and recover from injuries. This requires appropriate time spent on both prevention and recovery. And if they are done well in the short term, the athlete actually gains training and playing time in the long term.
So, when in doubt:
Body Weakness – Strengthen It
Movement Inefficiency – Change It
Fatigue – Rest It
Injured – Fix It
** Note – sanity prevailed with the player in the introduction, and they weren’t cleared to play.