No Pain, No Gain? Introduction
We love playing and watching sports. We spend billions of dollars yearly to watch Lionel Messi weave through helpless futbol (soccer) defenses, to witness bone-crushing hits on the football field, and admire how Lebron James thrives at all aspects of basketball. We belong to a worldwide culture of sports mania. We watch in awe at the pure, raw physical talent of athletes. Take Jadeveon Clowney for instance He plays the defensive end position in football, yet he runs like a wide receiver. He can run a 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds. To give you some perspective, at an imposing 6’6 and 266 pounds, he is still faster than nearly every quarterback in the NFL.
He shouldn’t be that fast.
Yet, what we often neglect is what kind of damage occurs to professional athletes’ bodies over the course of their careers. Some sports are inherently more violent than others, such as football or rugby. Take for instance the video below. It is the equivalent of a full speed train collision at the hands of previously mentioned Clowney.
Despite so much media attention given to concussions in athletes, particularly in football, we also need to keep in mind that all athletes are susceptible to long-term effects on their bodies. Many athletes go through a “wear-and-tear” phenomenon where the repetition of these activities erode their joints and shred their muscles.
This series will discuss the pain athletes endure throughout their careers and the methods they use to alleviate it. Some become addicted to narcotic painkillers while others can’t start a game with anti-inflammatory injections. And while remedies may help in the short term, their long-term ramifications can be disastrous.
In Part 1, we’ll look at some of the pressures imposed on professional athletes to play despite having significant injuries. We’ll also look at what effects, both acute and chronic, potent anti-inflammatories such as Toradol (widely used in professional sports, particularly football and baseball) have on athletes.
In Part 2, we’ll dissect two case studies of *star athletes Tony Romo of the Dallas Cowboys and his recent back injury, and Luol Deng’s illness during his stint with the Chicago Bulls. Both received injections in their backs for different reasons. Both were criticized for being weak, ridiculed for not playing through their injures. We’ll look and see if those critiques were warranted or not.
(*star player is debatable and highly subjective in the case of Mr. Romo)
In Part 3, we’ll tie in how sports related injuries are not only happening at the professional level—we’re seeing them in young children now. A staggering 1.35 million youths has a sports related injury every year, and if not addressed, could lead to permanent injury for a generation of young athletes.