Gordon Hayward making progress- Part 1 - the physical side

Gordon Hayward's road back just got smoother - kind of. With the cast and boot off, and the crutches gone, he is able to really start bringing his entire body back to its original condition. But it comes with a price. Rehab from a severe injury is never a smooth process. There are always minor set-backs, and Gordon is experiencing those. These are Gordon's words via his blog gordonhayward20.life:

I’ve been going into the facility every day, and working with the trainers there on a lot of different things. We start with massage therapy and soft tissue work on my whole leg, foot, and ankle, trying to get some of the swelling out. After that, I do some manual resistance stuff, leg extensions, leg curls and that type of thing. The goal there is to achieve better range of motion, and maintain strength in my hips, and my calf, and quad.

It is not simply the injured joint that suffers. The entire body is thrown off. Even the good limb (Gordon's right leg) doesn't function normally with the injured leg in a cast or boot, or with Hayward on crutches. The entire left leg has lost muscle mass, and all of the joints (ankle, knee, hip) become stiff from disuse. The ankle no longer wants to flex, extend, rotate or do any of the things it was constructed to do. And any rehab directly focused on the injured ankle will result in pain and later stiffness and swelling.

I’m also making sure the rest of my body stays in shape. So after all that leg work, I go to the weight room and I do a weight workout. One day, it will be an upper body workout and then conditioning at the end of it. The next day, will do lower body and then conditioning at the end of that. Obviously, I want to stay in as good physical shape, as close to what I was when I went down as I can. So it’s about trying to do something conditioning-wise to try to keep my heart rate up and trying to maintain some of the muscle that I had in the other parts of my body, even though right now I can’t load as much on the left.

That's the physical part of rehab. As a 25-year Health Coach/Personal Trainer, I have rehabbed many injuries and I ask clients to use a one-to-ten pain scale, one being almost no pain and ten being Holy Shit. When they tell me the pain is eight or nine, I stop. Seeing how Gordon stoically handled the pain when it occurred, I would guess that his six-pain-rating might be somebody else's nine-rating. For the basketball part of rehab, Hayward can now stand on the court. No more shooting from a chair. His shot still won't be natural because he doesn't have full use of his legs to propel the ball to the hoop. Here is Gordon on that portion of his comeback:

Then at the end of the workout, I go to the basketball court and do as much basketball work as I can. I’ve recently started to do some stuff standing up, so I don’t have to use the chair to shoot anymore. I can just shoot with the boot on, staying straight up. It’s non-movement stuff for now, but I can handle the basketball just standing straight up and do different drills like that.

Gordon Hayward's theme right now is, "Be better today than I was yesterday." As difficult and painful as the rehab can be, it is the easy part. Anyone's life can change in a heartbeat, and Gordon's did. Going from a soaring, elite athlete to a stretcher-bound injury victim in only seconds can take a toll on anyone's psyche. More on Hayward's progress from the mental side (and personal thoughts on teammates) in Part 2.

Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC

Top photo via Twitter
Bottom photo via Brian Babineau/Getty Images