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Melanie Witt

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February 21, 2018
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February 13, 2018

Immediately after school, a long line of athletes from a variety of sports gather in her office waiting for assistance in treating their injuries. KHS athletic trainer Denise Grider’s office is constantly busy with students anxious to get back to playing their sport by practicing strengthening exercises and stretching.

“There are a lot of guys who go in there all the time,” Béla Cseri, senior cross country runner, said. “It’s always pretty crowded.”

Since some athletes will play a sport at KHS along with the same sport outside of school, it makes sense that high school athletes specializing in one sport are 70 percent more likely to suffer an injury during their playing season compared to those who play multiple sports, according to the National Federation of High School Associations. Overuse injuries result from using the same muscles in the same movements repeatedly over time without enough of a recovery period.

“Playing the same sport every day 365 days a year makes you more prone to injury,” Corey Nesslage, KHS athletic director, said. “The stronger you are, the far less injuries you are going to have. Athletes should make sure they are doing exercises [in the weight room] that are going to supplement the movements they are doing on the field so they aren’t training the same muscle all the time.”

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, high school athletes have an increased risk of injury compared to professionals because they are still growing. Since bones grow before muscles and tendons, this causes an uneven growth pattern and causes easily torn muscles.

Thirty-one percent (62/200) of KHS athletes have seen a physical therapist on a regular basis. Deb Lavender, physical therapist, said that she thinks it is important to have the right balance of muscle strength and flexibility in order try to prevent injuries. Lavender sees stretching  as a huge aspect of preventing injuries and increasing athletic ability, even though she says many high school athletes view it as a waste of time and rush through it.

“I think it’s a shame when people don’t get physical therapy,” Lavender said. “We all have this common perception that if [we] wait long enough, the injury will get better. Injuries respond very well to exercise, but it has to be appropriate and it has to start very slowly.”

Grider assists in getting athletes back on the playing field after their injury. She is on call through a radio system during afterschool sports and practices to attend to any sudden injuries and is certified to do physical therapy treatments with a doctor’s permission. If the injury is serious enough for a doctor to be involved, the athlete’s doctor is the only person allowed to admit a student-athlete back to their sport. For other injuries, Nesslage said he wants to take coaches out of the equation and allow students to determine if they are ready to play again.

“It’s good to have an actual medical [professional] diagnose you rather just feeling the pain and going, ‘Oh, this might be this or this might be that,” Cseri said. “Knowing what [an injury] actually is is beneficial.”