Sports injuries, though unintentional, are incredibly common. Each year about 12 million people between the ages of 5 and 22 suffer a sport-related injury. Numbers are high among adults, as well. In 2012 alone, there were nearly 80,000 basketball injuries and more than 40,000 baseball or softball injuries among individuals between the ages of 25 and 40. The prevailing culture pushes athletes to play through the pain, particularly in highly competitive sports. If you’re thinking of just pushing through, consider some of these compelling reasons to slow down.

Sports injuries are often serious

Though athletes don’t always realize it at first, many sports injuries have potentially serious consequences. According to a Safe Kids Worldwide study, concussions and head injuries account for 12 percent of youth sports injuries, while broken and fractured bones make up 13 percent, and sprains and strains account for another 37 percent. The potential complications of these injuries can’t be understated. A concussion can progress to second impact syndrome, which results in rapid and often fatal brain swelling. An untreated fracture can lead to bone deformity or permanent nerve damage.

You can’t always tell the severity

Athletes often underestimate an injury’s severity, thinking they can push through the pain when their bodies really need rest and treatment. In 2011, high school football player Nate Stein took a hit during a game. Though he heard a pop, he quickly dismissed it and kept playing. Later that night he was taken to the hospital with a fractured vertebra.

In a high school field hockey game in 2013, Brie Boothby was struck on the side of the head with a stick. Though she blacked out, she continued to play through the game. She later found out that she had suffered a serious concussion and permanent brain injuries.

Most people are ill-equipped to handle injuries

Though you’d like to believe that your coach or teammates know how to recognize the signs of a serious injury, this isn’t always the case. The Safe Kids Worldwide study revealed that 23 percent of youth sports coaches don’t do anything to prevent injuries. Additionally, less than half are certified in how to prevent and recognize sports injuries. Rather than pulling injured players out, many coaches report that they’ve knowingly put them back in the game. Fifty-three percent of coaches have faced pressure from a parent to put an injured player back in the game.

Ignoring the injury could end your career

Though you might face pressure to continue playing with a sports injury, the best move is always to take yourself out of the game until you’ve seen a doctor. A medical professional can properly diagnose your injury and give you a solid plan for recovery. If you push through and try to play with an injury, you could do permanent harm. You may even ultimately ruin your chances of playing in college and beyond.

If you’re proactive about your sports injuries and seek immediate treatment, you can minimize the permanent effects of the injury and protect your body for future athletics.

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