Physical Therapy Plays Role In Tiger Woods' Return Following Knee Surgery
The world watched as Tiger Woods made his much anticipated comeback to professional golf after undergoing ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) reconstructive surgery. According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), rehabilitation with a physical therapist played a large role in Woods return to the golf stage.
“With all due respect and credit to Tigers surgeon for laying the foundation of his knees health, the rehabilitation that Woods has been undertaking since the day he emerged from surgery might be the most important factor in this next phase of his career,” said APTA spokesperson, Stephania Bell, PT, OCS, licensed physical therapist and ESPN.coms injury analyst correspondent. “Returning to play after an ACL reconstruction can be daunting for any athlete, and some of the challenges an athlete faces are specific to his or her sport. But, since starting his rehabilitation for reconstructive knee surgery, Woods has been ahead of the game.”
All athletes depend on the ACL to help control knee stability. However, the physical therapist individualizes the rehabilitation program to the specific needs of the athlete. Rotation is a key component of golf and is addressed and incorporated into the athletes rehabilitation program. There are basic, mechanical elements emphasized in a post ACL reconstructive rehabilitation program.
The Rehabilitation Process
Physical therapy starts immediately after surgery, several times a day at first, beginning with very gentle knee range of motion exercises. Depending on the extent of the swelling, a physical therapist will then work with patients who undergo surgery such as Woods on progressive range of motion exercises that focus on regaining any lost knee motion. Once the swelling has subsided, the physical therapist focuses on helping the patient strengthen the muscles around the knee, including the hamstrings, and quadriceps muscles.
The most important thing following ACL surgery is that patients avoid any type of twisting motions of the knee and not overdo the activity in the first few weeks of healing. The knee takes about six weeks to heal. During this time period there are specific protocols that enhance the recovery period.
APTA says that awareness of proper posture and the importance of fitness and flexibility are just as important for weekend golfers as they are for the pros. Golfers should have access to a physical therapist who can assess their physical abilities and provide individualized training programs that address musculoskeletal balance, body mechanics, strength, posturing and cardiovascular fitness.
Professional golfers make it look easy, but the golf swing is actually one of the most difficult and complicated movements in all of sports, requiring stability in some joints and flexibility in others. Having proper motion, strength, and function throughout the swing play a large role in preventing injuries. The payoff of a better swing is a more accurate ball strike, greater distance, and reduced stress on the muscles and joints. Physical therapists can help individuals even with minor injuries to reduce pain and improve or restore mobility in many cases without expensive surgery or the side effects of prescription medications.
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