Looking for answers
With extra time on my hands, now that I wasn't driving all over the great state of Texas for tournaments and games, I began to ask myself about why and how this injury happened? I questioned my new couch buddy at length. Did he fall off a roof? Did he jump from an airplane when I was not watching? Did he take a hard foul in basketball? Nothing.
I went back and polled my pool of moms with children who had had similar injuries. What had happened to their child? Perhaps there had been a car accident or a hard hit during sports. No one had a definitive answer, but every mom had a hunch or a guess. But there seemed to be a familiar pattern in all the boys', and one injured girl's, activity. All were between 13- and 15-years-old at the time they were injured The boys were growing like weeds (what pediatricians call the "adolescent growth spurt"). All the children were athletic and showed promise. All lifted weights.
Weighing on my mind
My interest piqued, I began to question my son about his off-season conditioning in the weight room. What were they doing? How much weight was he lifting? Who was supervising, and doing the teaching? I did not like his answers. I felt horrible. Somehow, some way, I had let my child down and helped contribute to his injury. I already felt bad enough about encouraging track try-outs with a fractured spine, but in all my safety check-lists over his sporting career, weight and strength training was the one activity I had not considered might result in injury.
I am not saying that weightlifting is bad. On the contrary, I feel it is a useful tool that helps prevent injuries on the field (and the research backs me up). I just feel that each child should have adequate training and watched closely to make sure proper technique is used at all times. (again, the experts back me up on this) I am beginning to understand that poor form in order to lift more weight is the enemy in our camp.
Backing the wrong horse
On the next appointment to see the back orthopedic doctor, I asked him whether the weightlifting was part of the problem. He very astutely and scientifically asserted we may never know the root cause of the injury, BUT he was not a fan of dead lifting, power lifting or squats for this age group. Scientifically, children are growing and their bones are delicate. The lower back does not get as much blood flow as other parts of the body. This makes the lower back very fragile in the growing years. This injury will not happen to every child if they lift weights while growing, just some. It is a risk of the non-impact sport! The moral of the story is, all growing children should be monitored at all times when they are in the weight room. Technique is the most important part. Also, special thanks to sports trainers and coaches who are the first responders to injuries.
Back to the story
After 8 weeks of solid rest, we finally got the okay for my son to start light physical therapy. So, back to my summer plans:
Team Competitive Physical Therapy is now our sport of choice! Our head coach, the orthopedic surgeon, will call the plays. Our physical therapist will be our skills coach, and correct positions and procedures as he sees fit. My son, the athlete, will be back in his game mode and tackle all challenges like a QB in the backfield! Team mom? Here and accounted for. My job will be to drive to all "games," cheer wildly, provide team snacks and keep the uniform clean. Dad will go over drills and plays at home in the back yard, as always. It is going to take a team effort to defeat this ominous foe. As always, our family will be up to the challenge. One, I hope that leaves us better prepared and a little wiser. Our ultimate victory celebration will be to see that #30 storming the field in September! We will film it so he can watch it on TV later - much later - in the year! He is a little tired of watching and not playing!