My youngest son suffered an MCL sprain this fall while playing football. He caught the ball for an interception and was immediately tackled. He says his foot got caught in the grass and he felt a tug on his knee. The opposing team's trainer examined him on the sidelines and sent him back in to play. The pain got worse, and he sat out the rest of the game. I took him to be examined by the sports medicine doctor I work with, and after an MRI, we got the diagnosis of a grade 2 MCL tear/sprain. My son's football season was over and he was put in a brace.
"I wish I'd never gone for the interception," he said. Multiple times.
My son has played football since 3rd grade. He's not a natural athlete, and is small. But what he lacks in stature he makes up with his heart. I tried to discourage him from playing but he loves the sport. The last 2 years he went out for track, to improve his running form and speed. And in this, his 7th season playing football, his hard work paid off. He played on offense, defense, and special teams. He was the punt returner, the wide receiver, and a defensive lineman. He plays hard and gives 200% every time he plays. His coaches praise him frequently from the sidelines. He became an impact player. He's never had a serious injury. Until this season.
Now he's having second thoughts about those hard efforts he put forth during the games because he has been sidelined from the sport he loves to play. He's finishing physical therapy and he'll get to play next season. I keep telling him that the coaches are going to remember that interception. That if he took it easy, they most likely wouldn't remember him much at all. While he nods in agreement, he says he would rather have been able to keep playing.
I need to point out that the intention of this post isn't to brag about my son, although I am beyond proud of him. He worked so hard to become a player that he could feel good about. What I found so interesting after hurting his knee is that he regretted pushing himself and making an impact play because it resulted in an injury. And that is something, as a runner, to which I can relate.
Right now, I'm suffering from what is most likely a minor strain in my piriformis muscle, with maybe some IT band issues. I'm sure it's all related. I couldn't finish my run today because it was just too painful, even after stopping multiple times to stretch and walk. This thing has been nagging at me for a couple of weeks, but it wasn't until after I
If only I hadn't raced it, right? Would I be hurting? If I had taken it easy that day, which I know I should have, I probably would still be running pain free right now. But if I hadn't pushed it, I wouldn't have gotten that 2d place AG. And that was fun. Was it worth it? I think so...
No guts, no glory, right? No pain, no gain? Go hard or go home? What doesn't kill you makes you stronger! Suck it up, buttercup! Just do it!
There are so many of these sayings. Sports is such a paradox. On the one hand, you can push yourself to achieve things you never thought you could do. Me, run another marathon? Run faster at age 52 than I've run in my life? Those accomplishments put huge smiles on my face! What a great feeling! But feeling like that fuels the desire to keep on pushing. Which isn't always good thing.
Because the harder you push yourself, the more likely you are to get injured. I've been here before. Lots of times. I've never been good at slowing down, at taking it easy. Usually, my body tells me when its time to do that way before my mind lets me. Today was that day. As I write this, I'm sitting on an ice pack. I've already foam rolled and rolled on my lacrosse ball. I'm going to work as hard at getting back to form as I do preparing for a race.
I'm not a natural athlete either. As a youngster, I was never good at sports. Gawky and clumsy, I tried tennis. I injured myself, not playing tennis, but off the courts by getting my foot stuck in the revolving door at the tennis club. Seriously. In high school, I tore ligaments in my wrist playing volleyball in gym. As an adult, I found a love and some skill for running. It wasn't easy at first. But I've worked hard and have been rewarded with endurance and some speed, which is more than I could have dreamed for.
Do we avoid taking risks, pushing ourselves, playing it safe to avoid injury? I don't think I have it in me to do that. I don't think my son does either. He's told me that he wants to sign up for rugby this spring. I know, football without a helmet, right? While I'm a little nervous about it, I totally understand where he's coming from.
As for me, in the words of the Terminator: