Injuries happen to the best of us, including our own employees. Jimmy, an active surfer and Physical Therapy Aide at PT Solutions of Florida Hospital Flagler, recently went through his own journey of physical therapy after injuring his knee during a surf competition. Below, he details his injury, treatment, and how physical therapy helped him get back on his board.
“As an avid surfing competitor and personal trainer I place a strong emphasis on preventive training for my clients and myself. This is critical in order to ensure that they are able to reduce and prevent injuries from occurring in the future. However, if an injury does occur, preventive training coupled with physical therapy can lead to a speedy recovery.
While preparing for a surfing competition this Spring, I experienced my own injury after falling during training and hitting my knee hard on the ground . Immediately, I felt a sharp pain on the inside of my knee. I had slammed the inside of my right knee flat on the ground with a lot of force and momentum with all my weight. I knew as soon as it happened something wasn’t right. I ended up crawling back to a comfortable spot on the beach and trying to rehearse what had just occurred. The swelling started to kick in immediately and my leg began to stiffen up. It felt slightly similar to when I injured my meniscus in the past and I was scared to find out what had just happened to my knee. Here is what I knew – the mechanism of injury was different than what happened to me before but I was having difficulty standing, walking, and bearing full weight on my knee.
The next day reality set in; how can I work if I can’t walk? Concerned, I messaged my Clinic Director, Luis Hernandez PT, DPT, OCS, a physical therapist at PT Solutions of Florida Hospital Flagler to share my situation. I told him that I injured my knee and was scared that I might have a meniscus tear due to the location of swelling and stiffness. He told me that he would meet me at the clinic and take a look at it that evening. I walked slowly to the truck, having sharp pains with each step and managed to get in and drive to the clinic. When I arrived he assessed my knee. After discussing the mechanism of injury and performing a few specific tests he was able to determine that it was a type of knee sprain with some musculature involvement which he felt could be treated with physical therapy. Since there was no major ligamentous or meniscal damage we were able to get started right away with physical therapy. At this point, I knew this was an opportunity to learn from my injury and the recovery process.
Intense manual therapy including knee mobilizations, trigger point therapy to the muscles behind my knee (medial hamstring, popliteus, and gastrocsoleus complex), and lumbar (lower spine) mobilizations helped restore my normal mobility from my back all the way down to my knee. Once the motion was restored we focused on specifically strengthening my knee. We targeted muscles from my lower back, hip, and knee. I was very surprised that I was able to do certain exercises with full range of motion along my knee without any pain. After my first session I felt about 10% better and had less pain when walking. Luis reassured me that I would be able to work the next day as well as compete and surf in the Flagler Surf Series pro event which was in six days. I thought to myself, “Ok, work…maybe, but surf? No way!” My knee still seemed so tight and I would have to be at the top of my game to surf well in a pro division.
The next morning I was still only at a 10% improvement and walking with pain. My gait pattern, the pattern which I walk, was limited and my stance phase, the amount of time my foot is on the ground, had decreased on my injured leg. Luis corrected my gait with some verbal cues and instructed me on the correct mechanics until I started to walk a little more normal. To my surprise, by lunch my range of motion and pain levels felt improved by 40%. This suddenly motivated me, not only were we going to rehabilitate my knee but we were going to physically prepare my knee for the upcoming surfing event. We rehabbed and trained for the next five days. We were even creating surf specific exercises that I have now integrated into my Strategic Surf Training practice for my surfing athletes. Each day I was feeling less pain, more strength, faster and more flexible. I was feeling prepared and confident!
The morning of the contest I woke up early and warmed up with proprioceptive exercises and dynamic stretches then grabbed my new board and headed to the comp. Luis met me down there with a PT Solutions shirt and stickers and sponsored me up like a NASCAR race car at the Daytona 500. I proudly put on the sticker and shirt and went to work. I am proud to say as the oldest competitor I earned a respectable second place finish to one of East Coast’s finest.
I am living proof that by being aggressive with physical therapy and having a positive outlook you can accomplish your goals. Thank you PT Solutions and Luis Hernandez, for not only getting me back in shape and in the water but for the opportunity to learn from my own injury and recovery.“