Injury Perspective: Kate Elkind
Spring semester of my junior year of college, I was accepted into the Teton Village Sports “study abroad program” where I took classes in drinking cheap beer, spinning DINs, and skiing powder. Like any good study abroad program, things got a little out of hand and I ended up blowing my knee in spectacular fashion. After a botched surgery (don’t ever let anyone perform a quadriceps tendon graft ACL replacement on anyone you know and love) where I ended up with a torn graft site with a mass of scar tissue, I began limping into the recovery process. On the bright side, I left Jackson and actually finished college, but I still was unable to ski, much less walk without pain, even by graduation.
Fast forward another year and things weren’t much better. My quad muscle had completely atrophied to half the size of my other. My exercise routine consisted of swimming laps in a pool with a floaty attached to my injured extremity so I wouldn’t sink, as it was too painful to use. I had been to approximately ten different doctors and physical therapists with no luck. We tried a variety of alternative therapies such as electrodes to stimulate the muscle, platelet rich plasma injections to promote healing, and all the classic physical therapy methods.
Two and a half years following my surgery, I sent Crystal a tentative email asking if I could sign up for her ski fit class despite the fact I had given up hope for a full recovery and couldn’t even do a squat. After all, I had been to PTs and doctors in Vermont, Seattle, Boston, and Park City and no one had been able to help me. Anyone who has worked out at Wright Training remembers his or her first class. And the second. And probably the whole first month. Because it’s unlikely you’ve even been that sore before.
Between my lack of physical fitness and the pain in my knee, I don’t know how I managed to hold back the tears that first class. Crystal put me through a series of single leg exercises that isolated the different muscles of my quadriceps and pushed me harder than any other specialist had done yet. I have a vivid memory of attempting to do a single leg box up and collapsing. But the next day, my injured quadriceps felt sore, which felt like a miracle because that meant it had been engaged, a soreness I had not felt since before my injury. So I went back despite the pain. A month later, I could do ten box ups on my bad leg.
I can ski again, thanks to Crystal. Skiing is all I’ve ever wanted to do and missing two seasons while living in chronic pain was a difficult period of my life. If my quad had atrophied for much longer, I would have lost the ability to build that muscle back. Crystal was the one person amongst all the specialists I went to who was able to strengthen my leg again and break through all that scar tissue. Strength training is the most important thing we can do as Jackson athletes to prevent and overcome injuries. I will be at Wright Training for as long as I reside in Jackson because it’s the reason I can ski again pain free and because of the wonderful family of people who make sand bag get ups almost fun.
Injury Perspective: Tyler Van Martin
After suffering a knee injury and going through ACL surgery. This season started out at a much slower pace than usual for me. Where I’m usually amped and ready to go with the first snowflake. This season I found myself reserved and hesitant as the world faded to shades of grey and white. I find that any year that you come back from an injury you’re always going to feel a little hesitant coming back to the sport that hurt you. There are a lot of head games and mental challenges that come with getting back skiing as well as your body feeling clumsy and weak. I found that the most important ways to get through the obstacles is to stay positive, give yourself small attainable goals and get plenty of rest days.
Keeping yourself stoked and being positive throughout an injury can be an incredible challenge to many, myself included. I would often get frustrated with where I was in my recovery and felt like there was no end in sight. I found the best way to keep myself positive was to celebrate the little things. At the gym for instance, I remember doing a little victory dance the first time I was able to squat more than one hundred pounds. Being only three months out of my surgery and getting almost halfway to what I could front squat before definitely fueled my fire to work hard and heal.
My other process I go through when I start feeling down is to keep everything in perspective. Instead of charging down the mountain at mach looney I would ski slow and just enjoy the feeling of sliding down slopes again. It helped to remember at the start of injury I couldn’t walk and nine months later I could ski again!
On top of staying positive it was incredibly important for me to set daily goals. By giving myself an achievable daily goal I would always get a sense of accomplishment everyday. Some days the goal could be a simple as “I’m going to walk up the stairs today without a limp!” Pretty soon those little accomplishments become big ones. Walking up the stairs without a limp turns into “Today I’m going to do 200 step ups with 20 pounds on my back!”
I’ve also taken to setting goals in my skiing as well. This gives me a road map to my progress and an idea of how hard I should be pushing it. The goals are easy to set since it’s skiing they usually range from tricks, cliffs or line I could do and will do again! It is a huge sense accomplishment and a boost in confidence whenever I knock one of those goals off the list!
Everyday on skis has become easier and the lack of grace from early season is all but gone. I’m proud of the struggle I’ve gone through and the lessons that I was taught from it. I like to look at injuries as crucible if you able to persevere and get through it you’ll come out of the experience wiser and stronger than ever. Lastly I wouldn’t have been nearly as successful without a rocking support team so I would like express gratitude to my friends, family, girlfriend, physical therapist and the entire team here at Wright Training. Stay stoked and see you on the slopes!