What did you want to be when you grew up? As a child, I was obsessed with basketball and still am, for that matter. I would shoot hoops in my backyard, watch every game of my local team on T.V., collect basketball cards, play in a local adolescent league, and I had a handful of jerseys of my favorite players. But I wanted to be an athlete. I wanted to play in the NBA (National Basketball Association).
The first time I encountered an athlete, I was 12 years old. I thought I was pretty good at basketball, but truthfully when I dribbled the ball, it went off my foot most of the time. Internally, however, I was Charles Barkley. Then I played against a team who had a gifted athlete. He was muscular and tall for a 13-year-old and lightning fast. He was well-conditioned and never seemed tired. He had an instinct for the game, could jump high, and a man he could dribble. His cross-over* was a thing of beauty. Within the confines of a youth basketball game, I became unsure of my draft status as an NBA prospect. Playing basketball was fun for me, not a lifelong calling. Athletes often feel compelled to play, practice, and perfect their game. Injuries can be devastating to athletes.
*If you do not know what a successful crossover looks like, please check out this video. I was on the receiving end of such an athletic flourish.
When we fall and sprain our ankles, our goal is to regain our strength so we can again go about our day without pain. Working construction can be a tough job with an ankle sprain, while working from home in your office is somewhat less so. For an average ankle, the ligaments that hold our foot bones together are very tight, adding stability while walking. It often takes tripping over our dog or missing a curb for us to roll our ankles. When we injure these ligaments, we often quickly return to our previous level of function. Athletes, on the other hand, stress their ankles for a living. They regularly jump, cut, pivot, and strain their ankles. Generally speaking, an athlete's ankle is looser than a nonathlete's. Intuitively this makes sense. So what happens when they sprain their ankle?
The first part of this recovery can look like the non-athlete. Part one is going from injury to regular activity. Then comes participation in sport-related activities. For a basketball player with an ankle sprain, we are asking to stress the injured area. There is not only a physical load but a psychological barrier to doing such a thing. We ask athletes to do the same activities that cause their injuries. Playing basketball with an ankle injury can be a nightmare. Caring for an injured athlete is like driving cross country in a sports car. They have a long road to travel, but they get there faster than expected.
The extraordinary thing about athlete injuries is that they often have the same commitment they apply to build their bodies for success in the competition to that of their recovery. Athletes can show us our childhood dreams can be real. The superpower of an athlete is not natural talent but the time put into their craft. A great crossover is nothing short of remarkable. Sports Medicine is helping athletes reach this potential.
At HealthyU Clinics, we're here for U. To schedule an appointment, contact us at 602-491-0703 or schedule online here.
By: Alexander Dydyk, DO
Director of Pain Medicine