Be “Ware” of Injuries

Michael Gross Snap. While the sound was horrifying, it was really the image that silenced the crowd of fifty thousand people watching the basketball game in Indianapolis. Something as routine as a leaping attempt to block a shot ended with an injury that sparked horror in fans watching from all over the world. After reviewing replays from several different angles, viewers began to grasp the severity of the injury – wondering whether or not this college student would ever be able to play basketball again. Kevin Ware, a sophomore at the University of Louisville, suffered a compound fracture in his right leg last Sunday during the first half of an Elite Eight game against Duke – with a trip to the Final Four at stake. “Compound Fracture” sounds less gruesome than the image that covered the news feeds of Facebook and Twitter Sunday afternoon. The bottom part of Ware’s leg had literally snapped in half, and his bone was visibly sticking out. As Ware lay helpless on the ground, spectators wondered how much we could really do to prevent injuries. How could someone who simply jumped up in the air, land and snap his leg in half? Freak injuries in the past have typically been caused by big hits that no training could prevent  – like when Lawrence Taylor tackled Joe Theismann during the 1985 NFL season, causing a similar leg injury. Like Theismann, Ware had trained tirelessly, and was in great shape. In contrast, there was no contact that caused Ware’s injury. He was simply unlucky. Often that is the case — you can do everything right and still end up injured. What is truly amazing, though, is how victims of this unfair, unlucky, “fluke” of an injury still keep an upbeat attitude, with a determination to recover. Despite his injury, Ware turned a negative into a positive, as he inspired his fellow teammates to persevere through the adversity and win the national championship. On a much different level, Latin sophomore Morgan Sulger can relate to how Ware feels. While she hasn’t quite had her leg snap in half, she recently broke her wrist – most likely ending her varsity soccer season. She had a similar fate last year, as she broke her hip early in the year, sadly ending her freshman season earlier than expected. Like Ware, Morgan kept a positive attitude despite the unfortunate circumstances, saying, “it’s a huge bummer that I can’t play, but I’m still glad that I’m on the team and am able to support my teammates however I can, despite my injury.” However, some injuries are preventable. Athletes must work hard to achieve their best physical condition in order to protect their bodies. The two most important things to staying injury-free are stretching and taking time off. Dynamic stretching before and after a workout is essential in preventing injuries, as it first prepares you and then helps loosen the muscles afterwards. It is very easy to skip out on stretching after a workout, as you often feel too tired mentally and physically – we have all been there before. You might say to yourself “it is only this one time, it can’t really affect me,” but that one time can turn into several times a week and eventually make your body weaker and more prone to injury. Similarly, time off from working out is key in giving your body its best chance to avoid injuries. With all sports teams, the coaches design and enforce workouts that are imperative to improving their athletes’ performance. However, these workout programs presume that the athletes will be taking at least one day off per week, in order to build up their new, stronger muscles. If they don’t have sufficient rest, the muscles will have no time to rebuild, increasing the likelihood of injury and rendering the workouts useless. As Latin starts the spring season of sports for the 2012-2013 school year, we have to be conscious and careful of injuries. The spring sports are off to strong start in these first few weeks. The Baseball team has ignited with a 4-0 record, the Tennis team has continued to play well coming off an impressive tournament win in Louisville over Spring Break, Girls Soccer has four wins in their first five games, the boys volleyball team is undefeated, and the track team has been posting notable times in their first few meets. This season is shaping up to be a fantastic finish to an already tremendous year in Latin sports. But, in light of Kevin Ware and Morgan’s fluke injury, an unexpected injury could put a halt into one of the promising seasons. Now, I am not trying to convey the message that if you miss one day of stretching or go one week without taking a day off, the next time you step out on the field or the court your leg will snap in half. But, I do wish to make everyone aware of the importance of being in control and taking advantage of the things that you can do to prevent injuries. Hopefully this will lessen the chances of a Ware-like injury that prematurely ends one’s season of glory.    ]]>