When I got injured at BYU they told me I would be back playing again in about 10 months. They said I would most likely have to red shirt a year or maybe make it back for conference play… I had different plans. Below is a list of things that I did to help me recover smart and fast. This was my, “6 month recovery plan.”
Get lighter and eat healthy
This step is very important because at this time your body can’t afford to put on any extra weight because all that weight will put pressure directly on the spot you had surgery on. Going through my process at BYU I lost 5 lbs, not a lot but enough to make sure there is no added pressured weight to the injured area. Looking back, my ACL injury was a blessing in disguise because I completely changed my diet in order to make it back. This step is the hardest, but the most important step. During the first month I couldn’t even walk. All I could do was raise my leg up and down, eat healthy, and drink a lot of water. If you can discipline yourself to eat very healthy and get a little lighter you are off to a great start.
What Foods Did I eat?
I ate a ton of greens. The more greens the better. Greens have a ton of vitamins and minerals in them that help heal the body. You can get most of your vitamins and minerals from greens. I ate a lot of spinach, kale, and arugula. I ate these as salads and I also put them in smoothies with fruit, chia seeds, and coconut water. These greens allowed the inflammation to flush out and gave me the proper vitamins and minerals to heal.
There are a lot of foods that naturally fight off inflammation and help reduce inflammation in the body. I used a lot of these foods to help take out the swelling post surgery.
All other foods I ate were organic and fresh. I had a lot of eggs for breakfast and organic gluten free steel cut oats. I ate a lot of chicken and sweet potatoes. All the meat I had was grass fed and organic. I knew the more healthy I ate the better chance I had at making a come back.
Focus on the positive
What I mean by this is post surgery you are going to find that you can’t do majority of things you use to while you are going through the recover process. You can’t jump or run or do most of the things you were doing before you got injured. The key is to focus on what you CAN DO with your rehab and get in a routine and rhythm with those things. For the first month all I could do was eat healthy and raise my leg up and down so that’s what I focused on and did. Every week I would make a list of all the things I could do for that week. From that list excel in those things and work at them everyday. BEING GOOD EVERYDAY ALLOWS YOU TO DO GREAT THINGS OVER TIME. If I had any statement or quote to sum up my six-month rehab it would be that. Be consistently good everyday and things will add up to your advantage.
Use The Swimming Pool. 50, 75, 100 rule
Slowly throughout my rehab process I could do more and more things. The common mistake I think people make is that when they can start to jog or cut or run again they immediately start on the ground or court. Whether it was jogging or cutting or running again I always made sure to begin in the pool. If my physical therapist said I could start cutting on June 25 (with his permission) I would start cutting in the pool at 50% for a few days and then I would go to 75% in the pool and then to 100% in the pool before June 25th. I would do the 50, 75, and 100 always in the pool before I would start doing anything on the court or ground. Then I would do 50% on the ground, 75% and then 100%. I would always do all these with in the time frame of what my physical therapist said. I found that by doing the pool first in that order by the time I was ready to cut or run on the ground my body was ready for it. With any rehab with your legs use the pool first. Remember to be really smart. You can’t afford to have any setbacks.
Use the Bosu ball and the bike
I can’t even tell you how many hours I spent on the bosu ball and the bike. Before every game even after my knee was completely healed I would warm up on the bosu ball to help get my knee warm and ready. With the bosu ball I would put one leg in the middle of the ball and the other was around a band that was hooked unto something for resistance and I would do 15 touches forward (with the leg that has the band around it) 15 back, 15 to the right, and 15 to the left. I would do 3 sets of those everyday. The main idea of the bosu ball with therapy was to create balance and it forced me to use all the little muscles around my knee.
I rode the bike everyday and used it to make sure even though I couldn’t always run I could stay in shape and it helped get good motion in my knee with all the movement you get from biking. Bosu ball and bike were the two main things that helped me make a fast and successful recovery.
Get into a Routine and be Consistent
From day 1 I was able to get into a great routine that allowed me to be consistent everyday. Like I said earlier, being good everyday allows you do to great things over time. Every Sunday night I would make my schedule for the week and I knew what I was doing Monday-Saturday for my rehab. I never woke up guessing or trying to figure out what I was going to do for that day. I woke up with a plan everyday! I knew my plan and I knew my timetable and what I could do and couldn’t do. It was like clockwork for me. I would wake up and spend 4-5 hours doing rehab, lifting, and recovering all so that I could make it back in six months and play the game I love again.
Believe and Visualize
Before I ever came back from my surgery I believed I could and I would visualize myself running and jumping way before I could.
“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream, not only plan, but also believe” Anatole France.
I saw myself making a comeback while I was stuck on the couch having to use crouches to get around. I saw all these things happen way before they did. Things got tough for me and doubt would creep in, but I made a concerted effort to believe I could do it. There were times when I didn’t think I could do it, but I just kept believing and visualizing myself running and jumping, playing the game that I love.
Work with people who Believe in you and your vision
The strength coach at BYU, Bob Medina, told me everyday, “you’re going to come back even better.” This helped me realize that my goal isn’t going to be to come back the same; I had to come back better. My physical therapist pushed me to my limits and I trusted him and he trusted me. I surrounded myself with people who were positive and believed in my vision.
Involve God and use Prayer
The most valuable thing I did was to simply involve God in my process of making a recovery. He knows what you need and he knows how to help you. Use prayer to motivate and inspire you to know the things you should do to help you recover.
Six Months later I made it back and played in the first game of the season. I wasn’t great by any means, but I made it back and achieved my goal. I accomplished what others thought was impossible. I went on to have a break out year and break national records with six triple-doubles. To the average mind-I had no business doing what I did-but I believed and visualized and great things happened. There is a blessing in everything that happens, it’s just up to us to find it.
Comment back with questions or things that you did to help recover from an injury.