Guest Post! via – Handling Injuries as an Elite Athlete

Guest Post! via – Handling Injuries as an Elite Athlete

Hi y’all!  I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce a new friend of mine, Adam Lambert, who is a pretty kick-ass professional snowboarder.  While I love to snowboard I am pretty terrible at it, like it’s a minor miracle if I can keep myself upright for more than a few feet, so I have a ton of respect for people like Adam who have the skills to compete at the level that he is. 

Unfortunately, recently he was sidelined with a pretty gnarly injury that he will describe below but he is using his setback to try to help other people, athletes and non-athletes, cope if and when they find themselves dealing with their own injuries.  Even if you are like me and just enjoy working out but are nowhere near professional athlete status, injuries can and do happen.  At the beginning of my own journey, I was making mistakes with my form and pushing my body too far when it was telling me to let up and I ended up injuring my wrist.  Luckily it was only a minor tear and I was able to get back to training within about 4 weeks but knowing how to recover and who to turn to for help when injuries do happen is a very important topic that I am super excited to have Adam share with us below. 

Take a look at his article below and please go follow his entire journey on his blog: 

Handling Injuries as an Elite Athlete

Let me start off by introducing myself. My name is Adam “Lambo” Lambert, I am a 22-year-old Snowboardcross World Cup Athlete. I have been in the top 10 in the world for around 3 years now and I competed in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games.

My career so far has been short and relatively successful, receiving 2 podium finishes and with most SBX athletes competing well into their early 30s I definitely have plenty of opportunities ahead of me. This year however an unlucky fall in the early stages of the 2019/2020 winter season has left me with a ruptured ACL and a whole lot of time to share my story and the secrets of a recovering athlete. Hopefully I can give you a taste of what I am about here today.

Athlete Support Networks

As an elite athlete there are certain areas of care, I am given to access that are expensive to use or outright unnecessary for the average person. Most of these specialized staff are needed for me as an elite athlete however a good portion of their advice can be found in abundance online. Below I have gone through a portion of those services and their importance to myself as well as their importance to non-athletes in similar situations.

  • Physiotherapy: The most important person on this list is definitely going to be your physiotherapist. It is their responsibility to oversee your recovery and prescribe rehabilitation strategies and judge your progress to give you the best chance at success. As an athlete I get near unlimited access to physiotherapists to ensure I can recover as efficiently and completely as possible. However, for an average person, once a week is sufficient in most cases.
  • Dietitians: Dietitians are one of the commonly overlooked support staff when you’re thinking about rehab and recovery. They can also be one of the most important. Having the right diet can make a significant difference in the quality of your recovery as well as affecting the time it may take to recover. Although important, getting yourself a personal dietitian is by no means a necessity, much of the information I get from my team is readily accessible online.
  • Psychologists: As an athlete I have full time access to Sports Psychologists to help keep me motivated day to day. Anyone who has been injured in the past will know that it can be incredibly hard to push through the early stages of any injury especially when it feels like nothing is making a significant difference. A sports psychologist is definitely a useful tool for someone like me but can easily be replaced by close friends and family pushing you to get out and do that extra session. The small things all add up in the long run.
  • Strength and Conditioning Coaches: Last but certainly not least is strength and conditioning coaches. These can be a local Personal Trainers or specialized rehab coaches, and their role is to keep things exciting for you as an individual. Keeping yourself motivated, engaged and most importantly dedicated to your recovery is what these people specialize in, a good strength and conditioning coach will work closely with your physiotherapist and prescribe the best possible program for you to recover well and recover fast.

All of these specialist support staff have a role to play in the successful recovery of an elite athlete. As I am writing this I have only just come out of surgery and am in the very early stages of my rehabilitation strategy. With this in mind, my main points of contacts at the moment are with my physio, dietitian and sports psych. Strength and conditioning will be a priority once I am able to get back to walking and moving around in a semi normal fashion.

My Recovery Journey

In this section I thought I would take you all through the protocols that I will be going through to ensure my recovery is as effective as possible. I will be heavily monitored over the next 6 months and my progress will be closely tracked by professionals in several fields. However, I will do my best to explain technical terms and any machines/equipment I will be using along the way as well and hopefully, be able to give you a good idea of how intense injury recoveries are when your career is potentially on the line.

The ACL Reconstruction Journey

Day 1, The Injury, whilst competing in the second World Cup of the season in Italy I was unfortunate enough to make a mistake which resulted in me coming up short on a large jump, this caused my ACL to rupture. The next day I was already back into a rehab/prehab plan with my onsite physiotherapist working on movement and strength. The most important part of this stage of the injury is making sure there is as little muscle atrophy as physically possible.

After a few weeks of light movement and activation exercises I was back into the gym working properly. Doing low rep high weight exercises such as squats, lunges and dead-lifts trying to build up my leg muscles pre-surgery. I was in the gym 6 days a week 2 times per day for 3 weeks in the lead up to surgery.

I am currently in post op week 1, which is 90% rest, relaxation and reducing swelling through icing and activation exercises (clenching muscles). I am lucky enough to have a machine called a Game Ready Ice Machine. The game ready ice machine pumps ice cold water through a full-length leg sleeve whilst applying pressure to push the fluid out of the joints.

After this initial period, I will be seeing my physio 3-4 times per week to stretch the new ACL graft and work towards full range of movement. The most important part of the first month is ensuring you can get full flexion and extension. I will also be using a machine called a Compex, which is an electro stimulation machine. This machine will assist in my ability to limit muscle atrophy by activating the muscles in my leg with electronic pulses.

Month 1 will be coming to an end by the time I get to full movement. At this time, I will be riding a stationary bike 3-4 times per day to keep everything working and moving in the right direction. On top of being back in the gym full time. Mostly for upper body work but also getting into some light single leg strengthening exercises to begin building the muscles in my bad leg.

months 2-4 will be full time training, once again in the gym 6 times a week 1-2 times per day with focus on protecting the new ACL graft and building up the muscles in the affected leg. By the 3-month period I should have full movement in the affected leg and will be able to get back into a somewhat normal day to day routine, whilst still waiting for the graft to reach maximum strength.

Months 4-6 will be full time normal training. The graft is not yet strong enough to partake in high impact sports until the 6-month mark, but I will be working in the gym as if I am fully able bodied and ready to get back to sport. This includes running, jumping, heavy weight lifting and high intensity cardio sessions 2 times per day, 6 days per week.

In Summary

As an elite athlete, the support I need to help me succeed in my rehab and recovery is more readily available than it is for most. However, that does not mean that you as an individual can’t take certain points from my experiences and help push yourself towards a more robust rehabilitation plan.

My recovery will be my full-time job for the next 6 months. Unfortunately this is not an option for 99% of people, however if you are interested in following along for more tips and tricks as well as updates on my injury over the next 6 months, my blog will have posts up daily, giving you a chance to check out some of the inside knowledge that is usually reserved for elites athletes and the people who work for them.

Let us know in the comments below, are you suffering from an injury or struggling through the rehabilitation process? Share your story with us and perhaps we can help make your recovery just that little bit easier!

Many thanks to Adam and we all wish you a speedy recovery!!




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