How to Avoid Becoming One of the Walking Wounded

By Caroline MacGillivray, Brigitte Schmittlein, and Abigail Simon

In a 2006 survey, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention discovered that “high school athletes account for an estimated 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits, and 30,000 hospitalizations annually.” These injuries can range from bruises to broken bones; however, all are important to avoid and treat properly. Injuries are part of the game; being physically active can inevitably cause injuries, which can be very detrimental to the success of a team. This fall season, the effect of injuries was evident in all Winsor sports teams, particularly in varsity soccer. 14 out of 17 varsity soccer athletes were injured during various points of the season, a situation that caused the team to lack substitutes. Toni Picariello, Winsor’s athletic trainer, explained the reason behind the number of injuries that occurred during the fall season, suggesting that “a lot of Winsor athletes will start playing a sport to get exercise rather than exercising to prepare for a sport,” which she found results in many “quad and hamstring strains or muscle tears.”  By being educated about the prevention and treatment of injuries, we hope that Winsor athletes will be able to remain healthy and avoid contributing to the estimated statistic of the two million injuries that occur each year.
When an athlete is injured, it is important to know how to handle the situation properly – not only to heal the injury completely, but also to ensure that it will not become a recurring injury and pose problems in the future. It is important that an injured athlete is fully recovered before getting back on the field.  Based on advice from Winsor athletes who have suffered from injuries and gone through the healing process, here are some of the most important and highly recommended steps for treating an injury.
First, for every injury, it is always important to apply ice. Immediately after a practice or a game, ice the area of pain for fifteen minutes on and off while elevating. This process will reduce swelling and speed up the recovery process.  Heating an injury, however, is not always recommended. Picariello explained that heat is more helpful for chronic injuries rather than short term traumatic injuries, and, when not applied in the right situations, can “increase the amount of fluid on the area.”  For more serious chronic injuries, it might be necessary to visit a doctor or trainer to diagnose the problem and continue the healing process. Regular physical therapy appointments can be helpful for more serious injuries. Be careful not to rush back into full sports involvement too quickly after a major injury; rest is important to the healing process.
As Giana Petrillo ’15, who has suffered serious injuries playing soccer, recommended from experience, “Just in general, at the beginning of the season do not rush back into it. Take your time to regain your fitness levels and then build up harder skills.” Maddy Batt ’15, a Varsity Soccer athlete, added, “When I started the season, I was still recovering from my sprain over the summer; probably partially due to this,  I ended up spraining my ankles less severely twice over the season,” a story that reinforces the importance of a full recovery.