Mom's Talk: Sports Injuries—When is enough, enough?
Pain passes, pride persists ... play through the pain, or rest on the sidelines?
Let’s face it, kids play sports these days almost 24/7/365. Usually, it’s the same sport, although some kids will “cross train” and play another sport for a season or so. Mainly we focus on being the best at one sport, not two or three.
That’s how sports are played in my home—one at a time. Well, really only one. We are runners, distance or speed, doesn’t matter, we just run. I run, my daughter runs and my son runs. And I will be brutally honest; We don’t cross train much, if at all. I am the worst offender; my kids are better because their coaches make them do core work.
So here’s my dilemma. Tt started last week and is still persistent this week. My son comes home from cross country practice, limping a little and complaining about his ankle, specifically his Achilles tendon area on the back of his heel. It’s a common runner’s injury, we all know running brutally beats up the body. I inquire of my son: Are you stretching? Of course, we all know that answer, he’s 12 … no! Did you ice your foot? And again, no. Hey, at least he’s consistent.
So how do I handle this situation? I think to myself, if he’s not going to take care of his body, then he’s going to run. Eventually he will either get better or he will hurt enough to take care of himself. That’s exactly what I tell him, “Taylor, you are allowed a few days of rest. I will even excuse you from PE for three day, but if I don’t see you taking care of yourself, then all bets are off and you will be right back on that cross country course.”
I mean, it seems like the logical thing to say and do. Well, logic backfired on my last year, at about the same time. After complaining of shin splints, and me pushing Taylor to run through them, he ended up being diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter Disease and was in physical therapy for a solid two months.
Mom’s Talk Question of the week: When do we push our kids to play through an injury or when do we sideline our kids?
It’s a tough call. Unfortunately, we cannot feel their level of pain, and all of us have a different pain tolerance. From my perspective, I will run through anything just to train harder and run farther. My daughter is pretty much the same way; she will run through anything, for anything.
And I know that my kids are not any different from other kids. Baseball players will pitch until their elbows lock up or their shoulders dislocate. Basketball players will pound a day’s worth of injuries into their legs, just take a look at all of the compression sleeve and K-tape worn on the court.
As parents of young athletes, when do we make the call? Where is the balance between playing through the pain versus playing so hurt that it is detrimental to any “sports career” they may have in the future.