The numbers support this. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have estimated that more than 1.4 million injuries occur each year among high school athletes alone. But this is only a fraction of the at risk population. If you add collegiate athletes, the Olympic sports athletes and recreational athletes, the number is huge—some multiple of 1.4 million.
There’s no denying the magnitude of this problem. But, is it really a surprise? Probably not. After all, the goal of competitive athletes and their coaches is to maximize performance in training and in competition. This intensity sets the stage for injury—this is simply the way it is in today’s competitive culture.
What can an athlete do?
Important news flash: most injuries follow predictable patterns because the musculoskeletal system is mechanical and predictable. Athletes make decision regarding their bodies and their performance. A working knowledge of these systems is critical. After all, who would drive a car without knowing where the brakes are? Although prevention is not always practical, you can almost always keep from making it worse.
In 2011 I co-authored a book about sports injury with Dr. Harry Ferran, an Orthopedic Surgeon and Sports Medicine physician. The book is formatted for athletes and coaches: a lot of narrative illustrations, cross references, an index, a glossary with pronunciation assistance, and explanations of medical terms. The response to the book has been encouraging.
I hope those on the frontline of athletic injury, coaches and athletes, will benefit from the material in this book. Although it is not intended to encourage non-medical readers to treat injured athletes, I believe extra knowledge almost always precedes a successful outcome.