How Helen Reduced Her Large Muscle Tear From Netball by 50% In Just 6 Weeks
PG Sports Injury Client Stories: Helen
Helen, 31 year old Netball player, was mentally drained and disappointed by the large muscle tear injury she got while playing Netball.
She wanted to overcome her injury to be able to do the things that she enjoys without pain or struggle such as walking, hiking, rock climbing and playing netball on a casual basis. She was looking for a specialized performance gym to work closely with her physiotherapist as big box gyms do not have such expertise or bespoke approach to coaching and decided to join Performance Ground.
Helen reduced her muscle tear by 50% in just 6 weeks, is feeling great and is in a happy place again.
THE VIDEO: How Helen Reduced Her Large Muscle Tear From Netball by 50% In Just 6 Weeks
Whilst playing a game of netball with her work friends, despite a very innocuous and extremely ordinary looking landing on one leg whilst catching and then redistributing the ball, Helen managed to continue to play the game with absolutely no pain or movement issues whatsoever.
Yet, in the days that followed, the area around Helen’s left knee began to swell profusely, getting bigger and bigger as the days went on until she was no longer able to bend her knee and struggled to perform everyday activities such as walking to work and climbing stairs.
This combination of factors prompted Helen to seek the help of a physiotherapist, in order to try and receive some kind of diagnosis to explain what was happening with her left knee/leg and if possible, help her get out of pain.
Through the use of an ultrasound scanner, the physiotherapist revealed that the underlying issue was in fact a lateral tear in the inferior aspect of the rectus femoris muscle (a large muscle is her quadriceps), in her left leg with a diameter close to 1cm. A very serious injury which indeed helped to explain the significant swelling of the local site of her left knee.
The road to recovery and reducing the muscle tear
After speaking with Helen’s physiotherapist at length, we were able to design a specific training program with fun interventions to help assist Helen in a speedy recovery because we know all too well how mentally draining and depressing injury can be!
In the video, you’ll find some images of Helen’s programme that she is currently undergoing. Please, be sure to check out the video as this is important for the forthcoming explanations.
The most notable aspects of Helen’s programme is firstly, the lower body strength exercises such as the “1/4 Squat from Flexion” and the “Deadlift from Blocks”. The reason for doing these variations of the lower body exercises was to encourage knee flexion so that load can be moved through range and enable stimulation of blood flow to the affected area so that collagen fibers could be laid down at the site of the tear to begin the healing process. However, the range was limited in order to prevent the knee from going through extensive range and actually having the opposite effect of increasing the size of the tear.
The next aspect of the program that is important is the rep scheme denoted for each exercise. You will notice that every exercise is pretty much 10 reps across the board. Whilst this might seem like lazy programming, it does actually serve an important purpose. That purpose is to limit the actual load that can be lifted across all the movement patterns and develop muscular endurance. If for example, we had given Helen 5 reps on the deadlift from blocks, the temptation would be to lift heavier loads due to the smaller reps. This would put more mechanical stress on the damaged muscle tissue and likely increase the tear in her quads which is obviously not what we want. Alternatively, by making the rep scheme higher, she cannot lift the larger loads for that extended period of time, inducing less mechanical stress on the damaged tissue per rep, minimizing further damage to the injury.
Finally, the last aspect of the programme that is of note is the single leg balance work such as the “Star Excursion” and “SL Bosu Balance & Catch”. The reason this is notable is because these exercises keep the leg in extension, to minimize any risk of further damaging the tissue and again stimulate blood flow to this muscle tissue to assist with repair. But, even more importantly, this is where we had fun with Helen. For example, by making Helen balance on one leg on the Bosu ball, we would throw funny objects of varying size at her to catch in different positions. This would challenge her stability by having to catch outside her center of mass but by using funny objects it would make her laugh so she would have to concentrate even harder in order to complete the activity. This made the activity enjoyable not tedious and frustrating which most single leg balance work is.
After completing 6 weeks of this personalized training program, not only was Helen feeling great and in a happy place after initially being devastated by the news of her horrible injury but she had significant physiological improvement in her injury too.
After the implementation of the training interventions put in place for Helen by the coaches at Performance Ground, Helen revisited her physiotherapist for a follow-up ultrasound scan to check in on the tear in her rectus femoris muscle in her left leg. The results of the scan indicated that the tear had reduced in diameter to 0.4cm, a whopping fifty percent reduction which is absolutely fantastic news.
Whilst Helen is over the moon with the progress of her injury and reducing her muscle tear, there is still a lot of hard work do before she is fully recovered and able to return to full sport participation.