This week's question
My coach said he had to check my arm to see if I was ready to come back to practice and stretched it in a way that didn't feel good for me, what should I do? My answer - Coaches can be amazing role models and integral figures in athletes' lives. All too often they can be asked to play all sorts of roles (PT, nutritionist, psychologist, teacher, parent) that they may or may not be fully qualified to do. The best ones will recognize where their scope starts and ends and have a network to refer out to. The worst ones will try to "do it all" themselves and may end up hurting someone in the process. For the most part, your coach's role in injury care should be to help refer you to the appropriate person to help -i.e. is your bone sticking out and you need an ambulance, or do you have a minor strain and need a PT. They may be the ones to sit you out of participation, but likely shouldn't be the ones to clear you to go back.
That should come from your medical provider. If your coach has questions or concerns about your ability to return to play, they should speak with your parent and/or medical provider, but should not be the ones to asses with their hands by stretching or pulling on you whether or not you are ready to come back.
Many sports have safe sport regulations against coaches touching athletes with the exception of acute safety concerns, but unfortunately it is not listened to. Athletes - if something doesn't feel good make sure to ask your coach to stop, and talk to your parent/medical provider. Parents - please empower your athletes to do so and make clear to coaches when an athlete is coming back from an injury that the athlete/parent/medical provider are the decision makers and any concerns from the coach should be shared, not addressed on their own.
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