While injury and chronic pain impact us all when it comes to our livelihoods, it’s a whole other thing for professional athletes. Their “day job” requires that they be in optimal shape at all times, especially when the window on their career is a short one. Being out of commission for 6-months to a year can close the door as the younger, stronger, and more physically fit look to take their place on the court, field, rink, track or arena. However, when we see the same athletes bounce back from an otherwise debilitating injury to become world champions, we’re fascinated by their ability to do so. And while we may be quick to credit their seemingly superhuman stature, there is something else that these athletes acknowledge as being the difference maker – physiotherapy.
Today, we take a look at current professional athletes that have been quick to praise physical therapy for their ability to not only maintain their careers, but to become the best in the planet.
Five Professional Athletes Who Praise Physical Therapy for Helping Them Recover from Injuries to Win Championships
Stephen Curry – Point Guard, Golden State Warriors
Current NBA World Champion and someone experts deem to be the best shooter in the history of the league would have not been able to accomplish all that he has if it wasn’t for physiotherapy. After losing the crown to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, the Golden State Warriors’ All-Star Stephen Curry missed a significant portion of the 2017-18 season due to ankle injuries and a Grade 2 MCL sprain which are common ailments experienced by basketball players. While some thought they were witnessing the demise of the small (for the NBA) 6’3″ guard, physical therapy proved to be the answer he needed to return to form to add another NBA Championship to his team’s trifecta. At the conclusion of the 2018 NBA Finals, Curry praised his physiotherapist for his timely return and subsequent success. Learn more about how physiotherapy can help in ankle injuries.
Rafael Nadal – Men’s Singles Tennis Player, ATP World Tour
Ironically, it hasn’t been tennis elbow plaguing Rafael Nadal throughout his career, but tendinitis in his knee. However, instead of letting the chronic ailment send him into retirement, Nadal would go on to win at least one major over 10 consecutive years, which is an all-time record. At press, he also holds 17 grand slam singles titles, ranking him 2nd of all-time and has won the most French Opens in the history of the ATP World Tour. It is within the latter string of majors that Nadal has been most vocal about his physiotherapy team:
“”I wouldn’t be here without them” (Rafael Nadal, post French Open win)
Nadal’s faith in physiotherapy is so steadfast that he opened the Rafa Nadal Academy in his home country of Spain, a clinic that features a team of physiotherapists to work exclusively with tennis athletes. View more on the benefits of physiotherapy for tennis players.
Rory McIlroy – Professional Golfer, PGA
Rory McIlroy is a four-time PGA major champion that has taken down the U.S. Open, the PGA Championship, and the Open Championship (twice). Among the many ailments common to golfers, McIlroy began his career with chronic back issues which included a degenerative L4/L5 lumbar disc, but was able to overcome the obstacles on the green with physical therapy. This is no exaggeration, as the golfer describes his physiotherapist as the man “who has had the biggest impact on my on-course life.” View more on how chiropractic work can fix your own golf game.
Shaun White – Professional Snowboarder, Olympics / X-Games
After a fourth place finish at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, where the Americans were shut out for the first time since 1998, two-time Olympic champion Shaun White’s Olympic snowboarding career looked like it may be headed downhill. After all, he had spent the entire season leading up to the event injured (ankle). But after recognizing that he was no longer a spring chicken at the age of 31, he decided to make a big change from the rockstar life that can often come with being an extreme sports athlete. In preparation for the 2018 Winter Olympics, White dropped the usual entourage and surrounded himself with new people, including a new coach, a new training partner, a new publicist, and perhaps most importantly, a physical therapist that would travel with him from event to event. The result? On February 14, he pulled a back-to-back 1440s to win his third Olympic gold medal for the Men’s Halfpipe event.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Professional Soccer Player, Italian Club Juventus / Portugal National Team
No matter where your opinion lands on this guy, there is no denying his seemingly ageless talent. Among his many accomplishments, he holds five league titles, five UEFA Champions League titles and one UEFA European Championship. Given his status, Ronaldo gets a lot of press for making extravagant demands when it comes to contract negotiations, but one that we can’t knock is that he carries with him a contract clause for his own personal physiotherapist (versus using a team physio), someone that he sees as instrumental to injury recovery (including a torn collateral ligament and numerous ankle sprains) and his success. He make make a lot of questionable choices off of the pitch, but this is certainly not one of them.
You don’t need to be a world famous athlete to capitalize on physiotherapy to improve performance in your professional career, whatever it may be. If you live in the Burnaby or Greater Vancouver area, contact Absolute PhysioCare today to learn what we can do for you.