The football, the rugby and the achilles

My younger son has an ongoing, underlying problem with his achilles in both legs. It is almost certainly connected to the fact he walks on his toes, but it’s a chicken and egg. Does he work on his toes because his achilles is tight or is his achilles tight because he walks on his toes? All we know is, he has to be careful as he can hurt himself if he overdoes it with exercise.

But he’s 13 years old. He plays football and rugby. A LOT of football and rugby. He constantly overdoes it with exercise.

He plays rugby for his school’s A team and football for a local club. He had reached a point where he was playing rugby four or five times a week – a match, a games lesson, a training session or two, plus a training session for rugby 7s. Which is apparently an entirely different game. Who knew?

He also plays one football match and has one football training session a week. He’s very good at both games and is super-fit, but it puts an awful lot of pressure on his poor achilles.

March seems to be the time when they have rugby tournaments, in addition to all the other rugby they’re doing. When a boy has an underlying problem, a tournament or two is just enough to finish him off.

The 7s tournament they’d trained so hard for took place the other week. It was a long day with a lot of rugby. My son’s achilles took a hammering. But he just carried on. He also had the last couple of rugby matches of the season, plus a football match and football training. He gave himself no time to recover.

We kept telling ourselves and him he could recover after the next match. But there’s always another match, another training session.

A couple of weeks ago, I arrived to watch his football match. But he couldn’t play. The 7s tournament, plus the rugby match the previous day, had taken their toll. His achilles was too bad. He needed a break. It was two weeks until the next football match and competitive rugby had finished for the season. He needed to miss PE lessons and give himself two weeks to recover.

But it was house rugby the next day.

House rugby isn’t like playing the local grammar schools. Some of the kids in the house rugby teams don’t actually play rugby. Physically it’s nowhere near as demanding. And it would be very tough on one of the best players in the house to miss out.

So, against my husband’s wishes, I let him play. The damage was already done, what more harm could a little more rugby do?

And then he came home and announced that there was another 7s tournament the following day. He really, really couldn’t play that one.

Fair play to his teachers, they know he’s hard working and dedicated to the team. But they also knew he was injured. So they let him go along to the tournament, because he’d earned the right to be there, and basically not play. He played for six minutes.

Now he just had 12 days to rest until football. Would that be sufficient to get over his injury? Having been the league’s top scorer for most of the season, it was important to us all that he ended the season as top scorer.

In the meantime, he was ill. He played that game, but he didn’t score, and his achilles took another hammering.

My son loves rugby, but we’re all so glad the season is over. Hopefully the cricket and athletics season will give him time to get back to full strength ready for the new season in September!

Son, Rugby, 365

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. He just loves his sport doesn’t he? I hope he can force himself to slow down and take a break for a bit now (and maybe do some of those stretching exercises).

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    • He really loves his sport! There’s always just one more match or one more tournament to get through. Hopefully now the rugby season is over and the football season is nearly over he can concentrate on more gentle exercise to maintain his fitness. I’m hoping one day he will see sense and actually do the stretches!

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  2. He’s had such a busy time of it and he sounds like he’d never stop. It sounds like the break in season has come at the just the right time!

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    • It’s crazy how much they cram in, especially towards the end of the season. He has a handball (?) tournament tomorrow, but hopefully the winter sports will all be done then!

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  3. Oh my goodness your children do so much sport, it’s brilliant to see although I don’t know how mum’s taxi manages to fit it all in! I do hope the injury soon heals.

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    • Thanks very much! Hopefully rest now the season is almost over will sort it out. It’s certainly hard work for mum’s taxi! Luckily my husband always deals with football and there’s sometimes the school bus for away rugby games! x

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  4. You are all such a sporty family, and it really does sound like your boy loves his Rugby. That he’s dedicated to his team and his teammates, which is also very admirable. Hopefully this break in the more traditional ‘winter’ sports will give his Achilles a break
    A friend of mine has a similiar problem, walking on tip toes and suffering long term. Yoga, I understand, is great to stretch & relax out those muscles.

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    • That’s interesting to hear your friend has a similar problem. Yoga sounds good. Now, how to persuade a 13yo boy to do yoga?!

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  5. I can so relate to this post. R is the sporty one and the problem with rugby is that it is so physical that injuries are common. He has been plagued with problems over the last year too and hates having to miss out. We have had two bouts of suspected concussion too and that was really tough as he felt fine, but we had to stop all sport just in case and was really frustrated with that and us. It is a real balance but funnily enough someone recommended yoga to us too, apparently it helps to build up core strength and can help with current issues as well as preventing others.

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    • Poor boy! It’s so frustrating because they don’t want to stop, especially if they feel OK. I’m so pleased the season is coming to an end now, hopefully my son can have a break – and your boy too! I can’t imagine my son ever doing yoga in a million years, but I’m sure it would help.

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  6. As if it’s not bad enough just now, I think this is my future. It is so hard to fit it in. I do hope the injury soon heals. Big hugs xx

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    • Thanks very much! It seems OK at the moment, but I know it will flare up again. We really need to get it sorted properly 🙁 x

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  7. Oh wow, that sounds tough, especially for such a sporty kid. Sure his Achilles is too short, I’d have thought? not that I’m a doctor but it sounds it. Anyway, rest up for a while, that’s what I say.

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    • It is tough on him! Doctors don’t seem overly concerned and he’s had a couple of referrals for physio when it has got really bad, but I’m sure there’s still something we’re missing that we need to get to the bottom of!

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