A remarkable comeback

How Kyle Schwarber went from ACL tear to World Series

If you’ve been paying attention to the World Series you know the return of the Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber is nothing short of remarkable. Schwarber tore his ACL in April. It was a gruesome-looking injury that was expected to end his season. Not only has he returned to the lineup, he’s delivered some big hits that helped the Cubs win game 2.

I’ve suffered three torn ACLs (they’re no fun!), and I’ve worked as an athletic trainer with countless athletes helping them rehabilitate from the injury. These experiences make me appreciate even more what Schwarber had to do – and has been able to do – these past 6 months to prepare himself to return in such a short amount of time.

While you watch the World Series tonight and see Schwarber at the plate, here a few things to keep in mind about what he went through:

Physical rehab:

  • Rehab from an ACL tear typically takes 6 months to a year, with the average being about 9 months. It’s no small feat that Schwarber returned in 6 months to play baseball especially at such a high level. He worked tirelessly with his physician, athletic trainer, physical therapist and strength coach to set out a plan. A decision to return to play that quickly isn’t something anyone on a sports medicine team takes lightly.
  • Reports indicate Schwarber went into the rehab process with the goal of playing in the postseason. Goal setting is important during any type of rehab as it helps athletes see tangible progress with their physical recovery. Short-term and long-term goals help an athlete make it through the tough days and keep them invested.

Mental rehab:

  • I tell ACL rehabbers all the time, “your body will be ready to do things long before your mind is.” Your mind knows how your body was injured, so it’s understandable that it wants to avoid that again at any cost. The rehabilitation process, especially as you begin more difficult functional training, can become a huge source of anxiety. The fear of injury can paralyze some and it’s important to deal with fighting that fear early in the process.
  • If you’re returning from an injury, make sure you work with an athletic trainer or physical therapist who understands the mental component that comes with injuries. The best ones will know how to push you to your limits physically so that your mind starts to clear of the anxiety and begins to see what your body is capable of.

While Schwarber’s accomplishment should be a source of inspiration, it’s important to understand everyone is different. Every injury is different. Whether it takes you 6 months or a year to return, make sure you do it safely with the guidance of your physician and your sports medicine team. Push yourself when you can, be smart when you need to be, and trust that the process and the people involved in it to get you back to your ultimate goal, returning to your sport.

Suffering from a sports injury? Learn how Norton Sports Health can help you.

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