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Don’t end up like Derek Jeter

Lets assume that you are an injured athlete, or as Bill Knowles classifies, a load compromised athlete.  In this case, you have had some sort of painful event that has changed your movement and ability to accept load.

Knowing this, you come out of surgery, and have been rehabbing.  You are now a different athlete.

You are permanently changed.

Injuries and RecondtioningDo you know the number one indicator of whether you will tear an ACL?  If you have torn one before.  Not because you may tear the same one all over, but rather you are more predisposed to having ANY tear simply because you have shown the predisposition to do so in the past.

What about other injuries?

How about Derek Jeter?

Derek is the latest athlete to add himself to my collection of dumb and ill advised returns to sport.  Reality, younger athletes are even more apt to hurt themselves than Derek.  Not because he is a Professional athlete, but because he has more movement competency than most young athletes.

He wasn’t sitting on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram with his friends, or playing ONLY baseball his whole life.  He has more movement deep in his body.

Yet he hurt himself.  Severly.

This hurts, but could we have gotten him back and stronger?

Not only that, but during rehab and pushing himself to far to fast, he received a new fracture in his ankle that limited his ability to do any movement.  This was supposed to keep him out till at least after the All-Star break.

Then he got medical clearance and was rushed to the field.

Another injury.

Doh!

Now, on a basic level everyone agrees that these injuries are all tied together.

Stress Fracture —> Broken Leg —> Fractured Ankle —> Quad Strain —> Hip?/Back?

The injury bug is moving upstream on Jeter’s body.  He is putting out other fires and not figuring where his movements have been so corroded that he can no longer produce efficient movement in the same ways he used to.  Instead of allowing his body to recover and then TRAIN aggressively for an extended period of time, he is fixing the local injury and then forgetting the system is changed.

Why did I put Hip and Back at the end of his injury history?

I can predict with some small amount of confidence that the next issues will either be reproductions of old injuries, or an injury to his hip and back due to altered movement in his swing/gait pattern.

Why is that?

Simple but effective

Well his ankle is stiffer due to the injury sustained and the immobilization that was required for healing, this moved up the knee and he muscularly failed in his quad due to a weakness in his muscles from having altered movement mechanics that forced new muscles to take charge in his running.

I will assume that his hip is starting to tighten up to protect the knee at this point and reduce movements that could create traumatic force.  This will expose his lower back to increased rotation during his swing due to lack of movement in his hip, and the lower back is not meant to create rotation, it is meant to resist this rotation to produce transfer of force from the ground to the hands.

Am I sure this will happen?  No, but if I were his strength coach or physical therapist or athletic trainer, I would be making an emphasis to re-pattern movements to allow his body to reorganize his system and get back to quality movement.

Will this happen?  Probably not.  With Jeter getting older he also will have degradation of his body from years of baseball to overcome.

How can we stop you from getting to the same point?

Actions Steps

  1. Find a quality PT
  2. I have the luxury in my facility to have a PT that understands and agrees with 90% of my training philosophy.  I can’t describe how valuable having a teammate on the premises that can respond to pain and injury and flow someone into what I am doing so smoothly is.  It is the pinnacle of performance training.  If your PT just ice and stims you for 50% of your time and has you and a grandmother doing the same recovery methods all the time, get out.  Paying more for a PT who gets you done in 3 visits vs 11 is worth twice what you pay.

 

  • Create a timeline

 

  1. When the injury first happens, figure a timeline for recovery.  What needs to get done in that time?  How often do you need to see your PT in order to meet that goal?  How much homework is needed?  People want to get better faster, but don’t train and recover with intensity to meet the goal.  Rest is good, laziness isn’t rest.

 

  • When cleared medically.  Hold a training effect

 

  1. This is something that I hadn’t thought of much, but makes crazy sense.  If you are cleared for activity, then you should train at a hard level for a certain period of time (3 weeks? 6 Weeks?) before entering competition.  You see, returning to training, and returning to practice, and returning to competition are all different levels of recovery.  I train in a controlled environment with coaching.  I practice in a less controlled environment with less coaching.  I compete in an unpredictable world with minimal to no coaching.  Are you really ready?

 

  •  Value the long term over the short term

 

  1. Is tomorrow worth trading today for?  Vice Verse?  When you make a decision to over do something today to get ready now, you risk tomorrow.  The question always has to be in relation to the future with an injury.  Getting back a week or 2 earlier and re-injuring and stepping back 3 weeks in recovery isn’t worth it.  2 steps forward 3 steps back.

Reality of what I do.

Athletes have short windows.  Athletes have a finite life span, and some shine bright for less time than others.  In this regard, most need to get back ASAP or miss a window of advancement that closes their door.  If you aren’t there in that window, your chances of moving on are done.

Losing stinks.  Losing time is worse.

I have to weigh that with every athlete.  In that regard, sometimes we need to take chances and move more aggressively than normal.  Only mildly though.  At the end of the day, your life and quality of life is important and I want to maintain that.  When scholarships and contracts are on the line, people are willing to push the envelope and we need to weigh those options, but don’t go to extremes people, there is a whole life out there your body needs to take.

With Jeter, what was the benefit of rushing?  You are about to be in the All-Star break.  The team is 9-4 in July without you.  The rest of the division is in a lull.  You haven’t played in 9 months.  Take the time, train harder, hold that effect.  Deal with situations and regain movement patterns.

Instead another fit and start.

We all have choices to make in life, and it is easy to look at things and say, “Well that was dumb as hell”, and use our hindsight.  Understanding the body and having a plan though could change the way things are done.

Hopefully if you meet this situation we’ll handle it better.

Or maybe you’ll end up just like Jeter.

Billy

About the author

Bill Rom

Bill Rom is a strength and conditioning coach on Long Island, New York. Bill has been training both athletes and general population clients since 2006. His clients have ranged from adolescents to 70 year old grandmothers, and from peewee athletes up to former and current D1 athletes. At Prospect Sports, where Bill is the director, he works with a number of professional athletes from the NFL, MLB, MiLB and more. Additionally, Bill has been published on EliteFTS.com, one of the top strength and conditioning websites in the world, as well as Stack.com; a website dedicated to improving athletes and is currently working on stories for LiveStrong.com. He also has done a number of speaking engagements including the NSCA and is continuing to pick up more. Bill is one of the top young strength and conditioning coaches in the country, and arguably the top strength coach on Long Island.

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