I had a 16 year-old client that came to see me for bilateral knee pain. She was the quintessential soccer stud in high school. Her father was proud, super proud. However, after years of American Youth Soccer Organization (AYSO) and club teams she just wanted to be a teenager. She wanted to recreationally play beach volleyball and ride her skateboard around town with her friends. Problem was, who was going to tell her dad?
“Can you tell him?” She asked. She knew her father saw her potential in soccer and judging by his involvement he wanted her to go all the way. I’m sure it was a mixture of finances and fear, like most parents have. The possibility of having his daughter attend school on scholarship, while also seeking comfort that his daughter was busy, preventing her from straying down the wrong path.
I evaluated the young gal’s knees finding minimal range of motion limitations and a trace amount of edema. However, pain was clearly present. I couldn’t deny the sadness I sensed within her. As if life as a teenager isn’t enough, she carried the burden of having to tell her father she just wasn’t into the game anymore. I could tell that within her she was craving freedom, which had apparently manifested into her body desperately trying to send a message. Just as bullied children have a tendency to contract health problems from these psychosomatic issues, children who are pressured in sports manifest physical ailments as well.
One day, dad showed up for her rehab appointment and I cautiously explained to him that I thought her knee pain and the inflammation present were most likely due to her lack of passion for the sport at this time in her life. I suggested she rest and possibly seek something new. She was mentally ready to acknowledge this idea in front of her dad— her heart wasn’t into soccer anymore. Her father thought my interpretation was psychosomatic bull crap. It was tough that day, but I’m proud I stuck with my gut. I was out of my comfort zone telling him the truth of what I saw, but I just couldn’t ignore my intuition anymore after months of treatments.
This young lady listened to her gut and quit soccer. She had the time of her life rolling around on her skateboard, pain free. She has gone on to find her passion and purpose WAY beyond soccer. When she answered the call her body was projecting – to stop the pain – she instinctually connected to herself. She chose to empower herself by communicating the needs of her spirit in relation to her physical body. She knew it was time to crossover the physical experience of soccer into a life passion. Soccer intrinsically helped build her grit and strength to maneuver through all the obstacles in order to attain her life goals. She taught me that everything in our lives is a stepping-stone to the next phase. Sports are not everything.
Where do you need to listen in order to face your fear? Give in to what’s true and bend with life.