Editor’s Note: San Marcos Academy is blessed to have the assistance of an excellent trainer for our student athletes. Megan Haynes is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Health and Human Performance at Texas State University. She also serves as Co-Director of the Athletic Training Summer Camp at Texas State. Read on to learn more about common student-athlete injuries and how they can be prevented. (Photos by Don Anders)
By Megan Haynes, MEd, MS, ATC, LAT
I first began covering sports at SMA in August 2007. I had just graduated from my undergraduate program at Texas State and was working on my teaching certification and Master’s Degree. I was also assisting with Texas State football. Our Head Athletic Trainer at the time, David Gish, received a phone call from Coach Wade, who was looking for an athletic trainer for SMA. When I first joined the SMA staff, I was only covering football, which has the highest incidence of sports injuries. It seems that each year, we have increased the number of sports covered and thus have improved the overall care for our student athletes. Following are a few tips about common injuries and how students can help prevent them.
Top 5 Sports Injuries Seen in Athletes at SMA
- Growth-related pains. Don’t worry! These can be normal! I will take a look at each athlete individually, determine their growth, activity level, etc. and depending on the findings, either give them stretches/exercises, suggest they take time off, or if needed, refer them to a physician.
- Minor strains. Strains happen to the muscles and tendons that allow us to create actions. Sometimes these get overstretched and tear to some degree. As long as they are minor (I determine the severity during an evaluation), these usually just need rest, ice, and some changes in exercise for a little while.
- Minor sprains. Sprains happen to ligaments, which prevent actions and ideally protect us. Sometimes these are damaged when we perform actions incorrectly or are hit unexpectedly, such as in a tackle in football. As long as they are minor (again, I determine the severity during an evaluation), these usually just need rest, ice, and some exercises to help strengthen the surrounding muscles.
- Concussions. We do not take these lightly. Once an athlete is suspected of having a concussion, I begin my evaluation. What is great is how supportive our coaches are with concussion management. If an athlete has a concussion, we are immediately in contact with the Infirmary and have a great protocol for treatment. We promote “brain rest” so that the brain can heal. This consists of limiting all distractions. We also have a graded “return to play” protocol that we begin after the athlete has been seen by a physician. Because of state law, once an athlete has sustained a concussion, he or she must be seen by a physician before they can begin any physical activity.
- Surgery-related injuries. When an athlete sustains an injury that requires surgery, I try to keep them calm and explain everything as best as possible. I may explain the surgery procedures or just talk to them about what actually happened in their body. After surgery, the athlete usually needs rehab. I am willing and able to assist the athlete by giving additional exercises and monitoring their progress, but this does not take the place of physical therapy that has been prescribed by their physician. The athlete will need to complete that as well.
Tips for Prevention of Sports Injuries:
- Eat well! Times of intense competition and training are not the time to be on a diet or try to make major changes to your body. Be sure to eat a good combination of healthy fruits and vegetables, protein, etc.
- Sleep! At this time in your life, you are growing and changing. Most of your recuperation from sports activities and the demands you place on your body every day occur while you sleep. Try to get 8+ hours of sleep a night.
- Stretch! By elongating your muscle tissues before they are injured, you actually prevent injury. This means before you work out, you should get a good, slow warm-up followed by some stretching. Once you have completed your work out, then cool down and stretch. When you stretch, you should stretch to where you feel it. Never stretch to where it hurts.
- Listen to your body. When you are tired, rest. When you are hungry, eat. When you are hurt, take a break, but remember there is a difference between being sore and being hurt. Soreness happens from working hard and feeling it the next few days. Hurt comes from an injury and needs to be taken care of. When you aren’t sure, or think you are hurt, please come see Megan and she will help you!
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