This is the introductory episode in the What is Causing Your Lower Back Pain? series. In order to understand What is Causing Your Lower Back Pain, it helps to have a basic understanding of some of the anatomy and physiology of the spine. So invest 25 minutes of your time to watch the following video to become familiar with some of the terms, don’t worry there isn’t a quiz at the end!
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Recent statistics show that Pop Warner participation has declined over the last two years. Since 2010, Pop Warner football has lost over 23,000 players. At its peak, approximately 248,000 young athletes suited up in a football uniform during the fall months. The latest stats show that number is now below 226,000. There are many reasons for the decline. One of the most cited reasons is the physical toll it takes on the body. Concussions are a huge concern for anyone that participates in a full contact sport such as football. These concerns are even greater for parents who watch their children run head first into each other. Education is imperative and the literature tells us the human brain is much more susceptible to a concussion prior to 14 years of age. Parents with any concerns are pulling their children out of Pop Warner football because of the risks.
How the Times Have Changed
I grew up deep in the mountains of North Carolina. This is an area where men are men. No complaining about cuts, scrapes, broken bones or even concussions. “Rub some dirt on it and get back out there. You are playing for the Cracker Bowl,” they’d say. During practice I can clearly remember doing a drill our coached dubbed Nebraska. At the time Nebraska was one of the best college football programs in the country and they were known for being a tough nosed team that would play “real football”. Nebraska was a drill in which on player would lay flat on his back with his body facing away from the ball carrier. When the whistle blew the player on his back was to spin, get up and make the tackle.
Well, this is all fine and dandy but the ball carrier has a running go at the defender. Sometimes this ball carrier also has a height and a weight advantage. My fondest memory of “Nebraska” was trying to tackle my friend, we will name him Dustin Eller. When I was playing termite football I was about 75 pounds soaking wet. Dustin was already about 140 and he was light years ahead of me when it came to physical maturity. As it turns out, his emotional and mental maturity has never exceeded that of a 7th grader; that is another story for another time. Dustin would start about 15 yards behind where I was lying on the ground. As soon as the whistle blew, I spun, got up and quickly returned right to my rear end.
Dustin ran full blast right into me with his head down the whole time. I can remember getting knocked silly and having no idea where I was. Instead of the coaches using any concern for their young players they quickly praised Dustin for a great hit and told me to get back on the ground and try it again. The next time I was smart enough to stay low and simply dive at Dustin’s ankles. If I went back to my small town in 2013 I would almost guarantee young boys are doing this exact same drill.
Fortunately, there is plenty of education to help explain the ramifications of these types of hits to the head. I may or may not have suffered a concussion from that hit, but my parents were smart enough to pull me out of the sport. I also remember going to practice with a headache almost every single day. Coaches would tell players to suck it up as this was just part of the game. Well, it is part of the game that is not healthy. My parents were smart enough to realize that. Many are not.
Education is Key
The statistics show that parents have a much better understanding of concussions and the health issues related to youth football. I do not want to say I am glad to see youth sports decline. If it is anything like the termite, mite and midget football I used to play I am happy to see a decline in participation. There is no way a 65 pound young boy should be accepting head on collisions from other boys twice his size. In fact, he should not be taking head on collisions at all. Any parent with an education can clearly prediction the long term effects of this type of behavior.
If a parent does not understand the long term ramifications there is plenty of literature available. If reading isn’t their forte there are YouTube videos and documentaries that show some of the terrible things that are happening at Pop Warner football games and football practices today. By simply searching YouTube for “youth football hits” searchers will find hundreds, if not thousands, of videos of young athletes “laying out” their opponents. Some of these videos show coaches jumping up and down and giving a high five to the young athlete that laid out their opposition.
If there is ever a doubt when it comes to the long term effects of concussions and spine injuries it is best to contact a chiropractor today. A chiropractor can help to explain what will happen to the spine and how it will have a negative impact on one’s life. One final story. When I was a senior in high school I was debating on playing football. My track coach came to me and said, “Jesse, I won four state championships in high school and I still think playing football was one of the worst decisions of my life.” We had a lengthy conversation and he explained how his back and knees were a major problem in his life. He was in his late 40′s and it was all he could do to jog a single lap around the track. This sealed the deal for me and I am glad it did. I went on to become all state in track and ran at the collegiate level. If I had played high school football I am almost 100% certain that would have never happened.