Crazy right idea, right? I mean, I think it is and I wrote it. How could this possibly be true? Why on earth would I wish injury on anyone? Great question…
The reality of the situation is that I do NOT wish injury upon anyone. I know growing up as a competitive athlete; the worst thing that could happen to me was to miss a game or practice for any reason, let alone injury. It’s almost as bad as having your ice cream cone drop on the ground 3x in a row in a span of 10 minutes!(That actually happened to me. True story. It was 1992’ish at the Carvel that no longer exists in Bound Brook, New Jersey. I’m not bitter. I swear.)
That being said, I still stand by my article title and believe injury is often the most necessary evils a young athlete can encounter.
The truth of the world we live in today is that health care is reactive not proactive. Most people would never seek out a health care provider or rehab specialist unless they feel sick or are in pain. If they choose the right provider however, these “unhealthy” people turn out to be the lucky ones for not just the treatment they get but also the advice and education.
If I use a typical little league baseball player as the example here, I think I can paint a pretty clear picture. Let’s say this little leaguer happens to be the best pitcher on the team and is overworked (specifics on ‘overworked’ are for another blog post) through the course of the fall, winter, spring, and summer. The kid loves baseball so his parents, who are very supportive, but don’t know a ton about baseball, let the kid play. August rolls around, the season is over, and the kid’s arm is hanging. His parents get worried and decide to take him to a health care professional–in whichever field they choose.
After ruling out all red flags and/or something that needs to be referred out, the health care provider, let’s call him Justin (cute name!!!) begins with an assessment. Seeing as we have discussed the functional assessment (either FMS by Cook or Magnificent Seven by Liebenson or a combo of the two or whatever system he wants) this will for sure be the type of assessment to use.
After the functional assessment, Justin finds all types of imbalances, weaknesses, hypomobilites, and dysfunctions from head to toe. He not only gives the athlete necessary treatment and rehab, but also begins to educate the athlete and his parents.
Some points that Justin might share with the athlete/parent:
1) Pitching or throwing all year round is a recipe for disaster. You need to take 2-3 months without picking up a ball.
2) You did not get injured overnight. Your body was building dysfunction for months, if not years and you just happened to reach your threshold now.
3) Once we get you out of pain, you cannot stop with the exercise program. If you want a long, successful career this stuff has to be as important as brushing your teeth every morning.
4) Your foam roll and lacrosse ball for soft tissue work are your new best friends. Learn to love them.
Without going too much into the neurophysiology of pain, let’s just remember that excluding a traumatic injury,(i.e. James Harrison delivering a hit and his subsequent weekly charity donation to the NFL)
pain is just weakness leaving the body (TOTALLY joking, almost gotcha). All jokes aside, pain without a traumatic cause is our body simply reminding us that we have some serious dysfunction and up regulation in the central nervous system and need to fix it, pronto! Through proper patient education, manual therapy, and exercise we can work to reach this goal of creating an athlete who no only is pain free, but who now has an idea of how to take care of themselves and take ownership of their health/athletic career.
This my friends, is why a 12 year old getting injured is the best thing that ever happened to him/ her.
Ah, we have officially come full circle. My work here is done. (1173)