A wise NFL draft expert once said, “Availability is the best ability.” As an athlete, the goal is always to contribute as much as you possibly can to the team’s success — but you have to be on the court or field to contribute. There are few feelings in sports as low as having to sit out and watch your teammates practice and play without you while you recover from an injury.

I was recently hurt, and I kept a journal of my journey to recovery. This is how it happened:

It was a totally routine play. I gathered the ball and took my three steps toward the goal, all my focus on the goalie, and prepared to launch myself at the net to create a shooting lane. I didn’t notice the wing defender closing on me from my right, too late to make a play on the ball or stop my momentum. Instead of trying to cut at me and mess up my timing, he threw his feet and hips at my lower body in a dangerous and unsportsmanlike play. I saw him cut in way too late, and my jumping leg ended up planting on the upper part of his ankle. That caused my right ankle to buckle completely as I tried to launch myself upward to start my shot.

I knew right away that I was dealing with a serious sprain. It’s nothing I haven’t made it through before. But with two big games just over a week away, I absolutely have to accelerate my recovery to be on the court for the critical tournament. I have nine days to go from hobbling around in shooting pain to playing 40-plus minutes of live game action, and I’m ready for the challenge. My time training with TB12™ has given me all the tools I need to recover from an ankle sprain, and it’s up to me to commit myself to recovery so I can heal properly and in good time.

 

DAY 1

The first TB12-aligned process in my recovery involves the use of a bioceramic compression sleeve, which I wear to bed every night and when I can throughout the day. I was given the sleeve by my Body Coach at TB12 earlier this year, and I continue to rely on it because I’m so happy with it. I’ve seen an improvement in my swelling and recovery time when I’ve used it with similar injuries in the past.

The compression sleeve helps improve blood flow to an injured area by emitting far infrared energy, a gentle radiant form of heat. The bioceramic material traps my body heat and re-emits it. It makes my foot and ankle sweat a lot in the process, but that’s a small annoyance to endure for the nice benefit of cutting down the swelling.

 

DAY 3-4

After a few days of rest, I began to work on strengthening the injured ankle through resistance band exercises. As I said, this is not my first time with an ankle sprain, so I have plenty of exercises memorized to choose from. After an ankle injury, I like to do as much band work as possible to improve my mobility and start to rebuild some of the strength I lost. In this case, I didn’t start doing the band work until three days after the injury took place, but the difference it makes is still really encouraging. After doing some band work, I’m able to remedy the Achilles tendon stiffness and shooting pain, and I feel much more comfortable moving my ankle through its full range of motion.

At this point, I’m still having trouble bearing all of my weight on that right ankle, which is to be expected just a few days after a severe sprain. I’m confident, though, because I’ve done everything I can to give myself a chance to recover quickly, and I’m already seeing an improvement in my pain level. Right now, the biggest challenge for me is staying inactive. I just want to get out and exercise! However, I’ve made the mistake of rushing back into action too soon after an injury more than once before…I think my time training with TB12 has helped me mature as an athlete, and I now understand how important recovery really is to a long athletic career. Even though I’m young and sometimes feel like I can play through injury whenever I want, I know I have to create good recovery habits for myself now in order to ensure my body’s capability in the long term.

 

DAY 5

My latest treatment measure involves coming to the TB12 Sports Therapy Center in Foxboro for a rehab session with my Body Coach. I understand that most people do not have access to this treatment, but many aspects of my care can be mimicked successfully outside of the Center.

A lot of the body work I went through during the session revolved around loosening up the muscles in my calf and shin to help increase dorsiflexion and improve my range of motion after the injury. This deep-force body work can be done at home using a TB12 Vibrating Roller or Vibrating Sphere, which help to elongate the thigh and calf muscles. I have been doing that exact at-home pliability work daily since my session this week and I definitely feel that it has contributed to my increased range of motion and overall comfort.

As far as the rest of the body work goes, we also worked a lot on the injured area to break up scar tissue and improve blood flow. I’m far from a Body Coach, but this particular process is simple enough that I can do it adequately on my own by simply feeling for the most sensitive areas around the injury and gently working them with my fingers the same way my Body Coach did.

 

DAY 6-8

The body work got me to the point where I’m finally able start exercising for the first time since the injury! I started with some basic plyometric exercises and did some light throwing before the real fun began. I’m talking about the anti-gravity treadmill. I think the AlterG is without a doubt the coolest piece of equipment we have at TB12, and I’ve always been interested in trying it out. It’s a treadmill for rehabilitation that uses anti-gravity technology to allow the client to adjust what percentage of his or her body weight he or she would like to bear while running. This allows injured athletes to return to exercise more quickly after an injury. I started by only running on 60 percent of my body weight, and was able to run hard without any real pain or discomfort, which was a huge morale boost for me.

I’ve used the AlterG, in addition to my normal regimen of bioceramics, pliability work, and resistance bands, every day for the last few days. I’m really starting to feel ready to play in my games this weekend. I’ve worked my way up to 100 percent body weight on the anti-gravity treadmill without any discomfort, and was finally able to fully return to practice just in time: one day before the tournament.

 

DAY 9 AND GAME DAY

After two handball games and almost an hour and a half of non-stop running, cutting, and jumping, I feel great! I was able to play two full games only nine days after suffering what I thought was a two to three week injury. As awesome as that was, I’m more proud of how I recovered. This was the first time that I’ve done everything I possibly can to heal and recover without rushing back to activity, getting lazy, or forgetting to use my resistance bands. It showed me that the TB12 Method’s recovery guidelines absolutely work for me, and that I’m more than capable of managing my own recovery while following TB12-aligned principles.
The Athletes’ Journal will provide you with a first-person narrative on the TB12 Method, covering pliability exercises, workouts, hydration, nutrition, cognitive exercises, and rest. Our first TB12 Athlete, Drew, has been training at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center and living the Method for over a year as he pursues his goal of playing Olympic Team Handball. This is his second Athletes’ Journal, be on the lookout for more!

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