Quick Return To Play

Why do high-level athletes seem to get over their injuries faster than you and I do? I've worked with athletes of all levels for many years, including professional and Olympic athletes, and I can tell you that they do indeed bounce back quicker.

Just look at T.O. returning to play, and play well, in the 2005 Eagles Patriots Super Bowl just six weeks after a major fracture dislocation of his ankle that required surgery. Allen Iverson doesn't even miss games with most of his injuries. Sure, my hometown of Philly is a tough place with tough athletes but this happens in training rooms all over the country.

Why does it happen and how can you make it work for you?

First, athletes work hard year round on their conditioning. The more fit you are, the less likely you are to get injured in the first place, and your injuries will be less severe with a more rapid recovery. If you want to "be like Mike" you better do what Mike does. For every minute Michael Jordan was on the court, he spent a minimum of one hour behind the scenes, in the gym or training room, preparing his body for the action to come. No wonder he scored 40 points when he was 40 years old playing in the NBA!

Also, athletes are a little different. They have a very rich physiology, some nature, some nurture, that gets them there in the first place. They are finely tuned machines in good working order.

Athletes have access to on-the-spot high-quality medical care which means early, prompt diagnosis and treatment that prevents much of the swelling, stiffness, and weakness that can occur and result in longer downtime. They have daily therapy, sometimes two or three times a day. They work diligently with their athletic trainers (ATCs) and physical therapists (PTs) and safely maintain overall fitness while their injury heals so that they are ready for action once given the green light by the medical staff.

They have the mindset -- they make it work for them. These are winners, on and off the field, usually with mental toughness and a positive attitude both of which accelerate healing and recovery.

But even the pros can hit a roadblock. Barry Bonds had a relatively simple knee arthroscopy, something that usually sidelines players a few weeks at most. He had complications and two additional surgeries and has missed almost one year of baseball.

Even the pros are mortal at times, but there are many lessons to be learned from them if you want a rapid recovery.

Has your path back from an ailment, injury, or surgery been unexpectantly long? Have you hit some roadblocks? What have you learned along the way?