Being injured and unable to participate in a sport greatly changes one’s perspective on that sport. Junior Mya Dietrich fractured her spine, which took her out of cheer for the summer before her sophomore year.
“I was doing a back tuck on a tumble track and instead of tucking, I stretched out my body and fell on my butt,” Dietrich said.
This put Dietrich out of cheer for over two months over the summer. While recovering, she also had to do physical therapy for a month and a half.
During this time that she was injured, the cheer team attended UCA cheer camp at the University of Akron. Being forced to sit out during those three days made Dietrich realize how much she loved being able to tumble and cheer.
“It made me realize how much I loved cheer and that I was taking advantage of being able to tumble and do things without any back pain or pain in general,” Dietrich said.
Her injury also made her realize how impatient she was. Because she was not allowed to do anything and had to sit out, she could not wait for classes at camp and practices to be over.
There were many bad things about fracturing her spine, including not being able to tumble, but one of the other worst things about it was everyone feeling sorry for her.
“The worst part was not being able to tumble because I hated doing nothing at practices. I also hated everyone being so worried about me because I felt like I was inconveniencing everyone. Lastly, there was no way to get rid of the pain except taking Advil. I was in pain when I was standing, sitting, or laying down. The only time it didn’t hurt was when I was walking,” Dietrich said.
Over a year later, Dietrich still has pain in her back that never goes away. This pain still affects her tumbling at practices and games.
When an athlete is forced to sit out of their sport, they realize a lot of things that they took for granted, which I know from experience. Like Dietrich, I have had back problems since freshman year and got a concussion last year during track season.
Freshman year after my back pain started I had an MRI done to rule out a stress fracture and spondylosis, which is a degenerative condition that affects the spinal disks. Once they results came back, they diagnosed my back pain as bad muscle strains.
I did physical therapy for about two months and was not allowed to tumble during this time. Like Dietrich, this made me realize that I was taking advantage of being able to tumble without pain and even in general since I could no longer do it.
This past football season my back pain got really bad again. I went back to the doctor, where they did an x-ray and were able to quickly realize what was causing my pain.
The x-ray showed that I had lost a normal lumbar curve in my spine, which cause my spine to appear flat from the side. Because I have to arch my back when I tumble, this cause a lot of pain for me because I was forcing my spine to move in a way that was no longer natural.
This also caused sacroiliac joint pain on either side of my spine. I had to go back to physical therapy for two more months. Although PT helped and I was discharged, I still struggle with this pain every single day.
I was not allowed to tumble when I was in PT. Once I was cleared to tumble and to this day, there are many things that I am not allowed to do, including simple skills like back and front walkovers and bridges.
Sophomore year I got a concussion that took me out of track for about a month. I had to do half days at school and I was not able to even go to practice and sit out because everything about it hurt my head.
My concussion changed my perspective on sports the most. With my back injuries during cheer, I was still allowed to go to practice and see what I was missing. This was not the case during track season.
I felt like I was missing out on so much during this time where I could not attend track practice. It also made me miss out on a lot training, which negatively impacted my season in the long run.
Although they hate being injured, many athletes, including myself, are thankful for their injuries in some weird way. They have made me realize how lucky I am to be able to do the things I enjoy and have taught me to not take advantage of them. These injuries have also made me enjoy my sports a lot more than I did before.