Josh Wintz is a graduate of Bethel University and is the owner of J. Wintz Bodywork. Josh has spent time working with professional, college and high school athletes.
Injuries are a part of sports and something every athlete hopes to avoid. The question athletes face is, “how do I avoid injury?” The answer at its core is simple… you can’t. Now this is obviously not what you want to hear, but the answer has far more layers than simply stating that you can’t avoid injury. All injuries have a cause, and the cause of injuries is what we are going to be looking at. I like to break down the cause of injuries into two categories, external and internal. Let’s take a closer look at what I mean when I am talking about and external causes and internal causes.
Let’s start with the simpler of the two causes, external. An injury that happens due to an external cause involves something outside of your person, such as another player, an object used in the sport such as a bat, or the conditions you are playing in. In basketball if you are going up for a layup and get fouled by another player causing you to fall to the court and break your arm that would be an example of another player causing you to get injured. An object used in a sport can cause an injury as well but often times involves another player. An example would be a pass from a teammate you don’t see coming and it hitting you in the face, breaking your nose. An example not involving another player would be if you are going up for a dunk and hit your head on the backboard (if you are gifted enough to jump that high) causing you to get a concussion. The last example would be for an outdoor sport such as football. If it is raining or snowing outside and you slip and fall or your cleat catches the turf funny you could end up breaking or spraining an ankle. These are examples of external injuries which are most often the types of injuries athletes are unable to avoid.
Internal causes of injuries are more in depth and will take a bit more explaining. Internal injuries have a number of causes such as muscle imbalance, muscles not functioning properly, posture, lack of self-care/ recovery, hydration, nutrition, sleep habits, and exercise, to name a few. Bad habits in any of these areas puts our body at more risk of getting injured. When a pain or discomfort comes on during our everyday life, that is our body’s way of telling us something is wrong. These are signs that should not be ignored and an athlete should tell someone about the issue they are experiencing. If not addressed or not addressed properly these issues can and will most likely lead to injury. Running up and down the court, jumping up for a rebound (untouched), and making a cut are examples of things that have caused injuries before but are also examples of things that should not cause an athlete to get injured. Often these injuries are looked at as a “freak accident.” That is a very lazy way to look at an injury and by not taking the time or effort to dig deeper and find the internal cause of that injury will often times end up causing further damage or re-injury. More often than not only the symptoms of these injuries will be treated, such as using ice, heat, ultrasound, stretching, strengthening, surgery, or rest to allow the injury to heal. If nothing is done to address the internal cause of the injury, then chances are the injury will resurface and cause further damage.
To leave you with a final piece of advice: if all someone does when you tell them about your issue is give you ice or heat or any of the above treatments, you should seek further help or get them to dig deeper. You are your own advocate for you body and you know best what is going on and what feels wrong, so speak up. I will touch more on this in my next post because this is a very important topic and needs more than just a brief few sentences.