Playing Through an Injury – Is It Worth It?

2014-08-12T15:25:08-04:00Health & Safety|

Even with every possible safety measure in place kids are going to get hurt when playing youth sports. They’ll skin their knees and elbows, they’ll jam fingers, stub toes, and crash into each other. Part of playing sports means accepting some minimal level of risk. Yes, more serious accidents can and will happen, especially as the level of competition increases, so hopefully the coach is certified in CPR and first aid so they know what to do in the case of an emergency (every second counts when someone is seriously ill or injured), but most minor scrapes and bruises aren’t serious enough to keep a kid off the field for more than a few minutes.

Teaching our kids to “play through the pain” is fine when they are simply tired and rundown, ordescribe the image just scraped up their knees sliding into home. But there are some injuries we shouldn’t push our kids to play through. After all, pain is a sign that something is wrong with our bodies and when that pain is serious enough we need to listen!

Overuse injuries can stop an athletic career before it begins.

It seems crazy to think that a 12 year old can suffer from an overuse injury, but thanks to early specialization and year-round play that is exactly what we are seeing. Christopher Kroner, MD, MPH, a UC Irvine Health family medicine and sports medicine physician said, “It’s now apparent that around 50 percent of all injuries treated in youth athletes nationwide are overuse injuries, like stress fractures, shin splints, growth plate inflammation, tendinitis and chronic ligament tearing.”  These injuries are not career ending in and of themselves, but without proper medical treatment, rest, and retraining a young player’s career can be ruined because of these overuse injuries.

Small injuries become big injuries.

Mark Trumbo of the Arizona Diamondbacks developed plantar fasciitis in spring training. Ignoring the pain, he continued to play. Back in April, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson announced that Trumbo was on the 15 day disable list with a stress fracture in his left foot – the same foot which initially developed the plantar fasciitis. What started as a relatively minor injury progressed into something much more serious, all because he tried to play through the pain.

Some injuries can kill.

Terrifyingly, 15.8% of football players who sustain a concussion severe enough to cause loss of consciousness return to play the same day. Researchers found 32% of high school football players said they had concussion-like symptoms over the last two years, but did not seek medical attention. More than half said they didn’t report it because they were worried it would mean they would lose playing time. An Idaho high school football player was sent back into the game by his coaches just a few minutes after being injured on the field. He collapsed shortly after. And a Frostburg State football player ultimately died after being injured in practice. For three days his injury concerns were dismissed, and even taunted at, by the head coach and the player paid the ultimate price.

Have you ever played through the pain and suffered more because of it? What do you do when a player tells you they are hurting?