How to Talk to Your Athletes About Pain Management - by Sarah DarenFrom the Coach’s Clipboard Basketball Playbook
Sarah Daren is a featured writer on the Today Show website and has been a consultant for organizations across a number of industries including athletics, health and wellness, technology and education. When she's not caring for her children or watching the New York Yankees play, Sarah enjoys practicing yoga and reading a good book on the beach.
From ankle sprains to severe injuries, athletes get hurt - a lot. It's essential that coaches understand the intricacies of injuries and how to support players when they're not at 100%.
While you can't stop injuries altogether, you can help players recover physically and emotionally when they do get hurt. With the right perspective, you can relieve athletes of the mental and physical burden that typically comes along with getting sidelined.
First, Never Pressure Your Athlete to Play
Your athletes know their bodies better than anyone - and you should reinforce this fact. Often, coaches may feel compelled to encourage players to exercise mind over matter when it comes to injuries. Sports is, after all, a competition, and it's easy to forget about other things in pursuit of a win.
However, emphasizing athletic success over player health can result in unfortunate outcomes from which players may never recover. Remain mindful that athletes' bodies have limits to prevent them from harming themselves irreparably.
If They Want to Play Through an Injury, First have them See a Trainer
In most instances, athletes can return to their preinjury condition after a short time. However, there are more severe injuries that can place a student's athletic career in jeopardy and severely diminish their quality of life. Furthermore, serious injuries threatened to take away an essential part of athletes' identities.
It's the trainer's call to decide when players can "shake it off" or when an athlete needs physical therapy. Also, trainers can help by educating athletes on the risks involved with various types of injuries. They can also help athletes overcome feelings of inadequacy due to their injury.
Coaches, Be Sure to Provide Your Athletes With All Available Educational Resources
Serious injuries, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) damage, can end an athlete's career. Furthermore, with many severe injuries, a player faces an increased risk of experiencing the same physical damage later in their sports career.
A severe injury can sideline not only a sports career but also an athletics-based scholarship. Coaches of any sport should inform their players about the risks of severe injuries and how to avoid them. By teaching players about proper safety precautions while playing and training, coaches can protect student-athletes' future and education.
Want to Make an Impact? Encourage Athletes Through the Rehab Process
Injuries affect athletes' minds as much as it affects their bodies. Coaches can support injured athletes by preparing them for the recovery process.
It's natural to focus on the physical aspects of recovery. Meanwhile, coaches and players often overlook the emotional aspect of recovering from athletic injuries. Coaches should prepare students for coping with feelings of loss due to the disruption of their role as an athlete.
Have Them Speak to Medical Professional on New Pain Treatment Options on the Horizon
Coaches should always stay on the lookout for new ways to help players. CBD treatment - or medical cannabis - is a relatively new, non-intoxicating remedy for pain. In 2018, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing developed official guidelines for cannabis-based treatment - laying the foundation for CBD as a mainstream intervention.
One study shows that 74% of surveyed patients report pain relief after treatment with a CBD-based pharmaceutical. Coaches should research the benefits of CBD pain relief for their athletes so that they are prepared to offer their opinion on the matter should the need arise.
Why It's Important to Keep an Eye out for Injuries
Often, injured athletes hide their pain. In sports culture, complaining about injuries is often viewed as a sign of weakness.
Traditionally, coaches teach athletes to work through the pain. Unfortunately, this can lead athletes to ignore injuries that warrant attention.
For many young athletes, sports is life. Some players can't imagine living without their sport of choice. Most successful, young student-athletes have yet to develop an identity outside of their sports activities.
If an injury threatens a young athlete's role on the team, they're likely to experience feelings of loss. Accordingly, it can prove challenging to compel an athlete to seek treatment.
For the health and well-being of players, it's essential to intervene early to prevent physical and emotional damage. Coaches and trainers must work together to watch over players and monitor for signs of injury and ensure their athletic and academic success.
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