High school athletes endure pain to gain: sports injuries explained

March 28, 2016

The boys of Sandburg track did extremely well during their season, luckily avoiding any serious injury, but they required extra personal care in order to stay healthy and able to compete.

Photo by Sandburg Athletics Twitter

The boys of Sandburg track did extremely well during their season, luckily avoiding any serious injury, but they required extra personal care in order to stay healthy and able to compete.

They experience rigorous, non-stop practice, three or more hours a day, five or more days a week. Most sports require an athletic trainer on standby during games, and it is dangerously common to see an ambulance called at these events. Many students feel pressure to continue to train despite these struggles. Student athletes are made to endure these intense conditions even at the high school level, so how could we expect anything less than injury to occur?

The measures Sandburg takes in order to combat injury for its student athletes is, for the most part, effective, but to a limited extent. Athletic trainers are educated through their club, which teaches the necessary treatment of injuries and conditions to those students usually interested in pursuing sports or other facets of medicine as a career.

“There’s no sure way to prevent injuries, but I can help the athletes stretch so they don’t pull a muscle,” says Natalie Harmening, a senior athletic trainer who plans to study nursing in college, “I also sort of think of myself as the ‘team mom’ because I fix cuts, and I give ice to make sure everyone stays safe.”

Because these athletic trainers see everything from floor burn to a dislocated knee, they always have the option to radio the certified athletic trainers when situations arise that are of a more intense scale. But still, this kind of assistance only helps with the immediate problems, not the issues that sometimes develop over time.

Athletic trainer Natalie Harmening supplies the girls’ basketball team with water to combat injury and de-hydration, just one of her many tasks as a trainer..

Photo courtesy of @SandburgAthletics Twitter
Athletic trainer Natalie Harmening supplies the girls’ basketball team with water to combat injury and de-hydration, just one of her many tasks as a trainer..

Recently, the discussion of how high-impact sports negatively affect the athletes involved has entered common conversation due to Concussion, the new movie starring Will Smith which has just left select theatres.

The film surrounds the pioneering research of pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu, who found a connection between football players and the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This era of greater knowledge of health risks brings about an increased social consciousness of the danger in sports.

It isn’t just high-impact athletes that experience the negative effect that occurs with too much pressure, though. Sarah Zieba, a senior who participates in cross-country and track, even without ever seriously injuring herself.

“I definitely think the minor injuries I have had are due to the pressure I put on myself, for I feel like I push myself harder than my coaches do,” states Sarah Zieba.

“In my efforts to do the best I possibly can, I tend to overwork myself, which results in exhausting my body, making it more prone to injury.”

Everyday, athletes push themselves in order to progress, to get better at their sport, and to not let themselves, their team, or their coaches down. There comes a point, though, when pushing yourself turns from training progression to health regression, and that line, especially for high school and college athletes, is increasingly blurred. It is at that point that sports adjust from being fun pastimes to personal safety hazards.

It is time for professionals to take a close look at how non-professional and professional sports take a toll on those who partake in them. The resolution to this issue is not ridding the world of these sports all-together but reforming the way people play them. By finding ways to avoid repeated strain on the body, athletes can do what they love, released from the fear of hurting themselves.

“In my efforts to the best I possibly can, I tend to overwork myself, which results in exhausting my body, making it more prone to injury”
– Sarah Zieba


 

Dangers of over-use: the many forms of sports injuries

  • a baseball pitcher continuing to pitch when the arm or shoulder is painful
  • a ballet dancer over-using the feet, ankles, legs and back
  • a weightlifter using the same muscles over and over
  • a tennis player over-using an elbow (tennis elbow) or shoulder
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