The Elephant and the String

What does it take to come back from an injury or an operation?  Like the elephant, you need to be able to know you can break the string that holds you. 

What Holds You Back?

Not sure if it fable or fact, but the story is that they tie a baby elephant to a stake with a rope that it cannot break at that age. And as it grows and grows, it is still tied with that same small rope, because it does not know it can easily break it.

Early in my hip surgery recovery, I was playing a doubles match and NOT going for balls over the middle. I said to my partner, Bob Wilkie, “I feel like the elephant tied to a stake with a string.”  Meaning I had to convince myself that I could make those quick movements and not hurt myself.

Belief is Key

After that, we were playing another doubles match and Bob commented how much better I was moving. And I told him it was half physical and half that I have now “broken the string.”  I now believe I can move and won’t re-injure my hip.

What experiences have you had coming back from injury?

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5 thoughts on “The Elephant and the String

  1. I have been told that the only way an athlete is truly “back to normal” is when they make a move for the first time that caused the original injury or pain without thinking about. It usually happens in the heat of battle where they don’t have time to think and and can only react. Once they realize there wasn’t any pain, it straight up from there!
    Looking forward to seeing you on Friday without having to be the DR (designated runner!).

    Steve, thanks. see you soon! george

  2. About ten years ago I had shoulder surgery on my right (dominant) shoulder. I had three tears and no remaining cartilage and was advised by my orthopedic surgeon to never play tennis right handed again. I played left handed for one and a half years and then one day, by accident, I reached for a wide ball to my forehand with my right arm and felt no discomfort. Over the next three months I gradually began to play right handed again, with no adverse effects.
    It’s often difficult to decide how far to go after joint surgery, but my dictum has always been “listen to your body”.

    Doc, and, listen to your Doctor friends! thanks, george

  3. Ahhh……………..so true. The mental part is the last journey to full recovery. Good luck Rascal, and you were moving well on Monday.

    Howie, thanks and enjoy your short stay up north. george

  4. Not always George. 2 months before the annual softball worlds I pulled my right hamstring. I was doing rehab for the next 2 months with a slow but steady recovery. I wrapped and taped it up every time I played as well as warmed it up before Tennis and softball games. But I made sure that I purposely ran at 85% and played tennis at 85% (letting a few balls go every set). The holding back strategy paid off. I did not re-injure my hamstring and was 95% by Nationals. As a leadoff batter I ended with an .809 average for the big tourney.

    Sometimes you need to hold back while on the mend to make sure you don’t re-injure yourself.

    Rambo, as Dr. Fenster says below, “Listen to your body.” Plus, your 85% is pretty damn good! See you in one month! george

  5. After I broke my ankle badly playing tennis and a little “plate with some screws” was put onto it, it took 18 months for me to just to run, sprint or take off without a strange “first step” that was the norm for the period from 10 months to 18 months.
    I don’t believe in separating mind and body 🙂 They are one and the same… so my take with coming out of injury is that the body and mind know exactly when that time has come to reuse at full capacity. Maybe an example from nature helps me explain my point better… an apple tree knows EXACTLY when to bare fruit…. if the fruit comes to early, the young tree dies/breaks …somehow the “timing”” of it is perfect. Our bodies function the same way…

    Go ahead George… tell me I’m weird 🙂

    Marc, no need to … everyone knows. 🙂

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