Dr. William Charschan is the medical staff for USATFNJ Jr. Olympics in Plainfield NJ this past weekend
Most children who participate in track and field and most adults who do one of the many road races throughout the year are familiar with USATFNJ who is the local chapter. USATFNJ sponsors many track and field events throughout the year both regionally and nationally.
The Junior Olympics this past weekend in Plainfield, NJ at Hubb Stein Field was attended by hundreds of young athletes 14 and under and was a busy meet. Midday, the temperatures have risen and some of our young athletes were having heat-related issues.
Athletes from all over NJ attended this two-day event. My purpose of to offer first aid and to help athletes perform better if possible. Unlike the First Aid Squad who was also in attendance just in case of true medical emergencies, I was there to help with scrapes, bee stings, minor injuries and to offer guidance instead of just handing out ice bags. We also had our share of heat-related issues as the day wore on and the sun’s heat intensified.
Typical problems I offer athletes help with may include foot pain, knee pain or even lower back issues. One young athlete whose team from Camden had a growth plate problem on her heel was being co-managed by their team’s chiropractor as well as a local podiatrist. I was able to offer assistance, guidance, and relief to her which improved how she felt when she competed in her second race of the day. When a young athlete like this has a problem like this, I often ask why and ask the athlete to allow me to evaluate them instead of just giving them ice as they requested. Often, drawing from 30 years of experience I can give them advice and a perspective on their problem that helps them for years to come, and may significantly reduce the risk of future injuries.
I have learned to solve problems by thinking outside the box and I helped this young athlete by coming up with solutions that improved how she was able to run, while offering her parents advice and a better understanding of who their daughter was having this type of problem. This improved knowledge will help them choose who and how to help their young athlete during their growing years.
Events like this are my way of giving back to the community. It has also helped me develop my reputation of being a problem solver when it comes to sports injuries that involve running. While most healthcare providers diagnose a problem and suggest therapies or solutions that may or may not resolve the problem, growing children present a unique challenge since the grow spurts themselves can often cause many injuries when the athlete is already having mechanical difficulties they and their parents do not fully understand.
Finding unique solutions to an athlete’s unique problems is essential to keeping young athletes injury-free. Often, it requires medical knowledge, an understanding of rehabilitation principals, an understanding of body mechanics, especially their unique body mechanics, and an understanding of why injuries are occurring to them.
To solve a problem, a healthcare provider must recognize why they hurt, understand why the problem is occurring mechanically, and find innovative ways to personalize the care to their unique body style. Placing ice on a painful part and telling them to run through it after resting it for 6 weeks is in the box thinking that will not mitigate future injuries. On the other hand, fully understanding the problem and addressing it properly can help them become better athletes with fewer problems in the years to come.
Most running problems are a result of impact forces with the ground. Poor body mechanics will increase the force that the runner hits the ground with, and over time this will result in injuries, especially in growing athletes.
It is this unique perspective on body mechanics that I bring to the running community, which has helped me build my reputation as a healthcare provider.