The fustration of sport injuries - A tennis case study with Keelan Oakley

It is the peak of the tennis season, the French Open finals have been played and Wimbledon is round the corner - now is the perfect time to highlight some of the work we do with some of Sussex's top ranked tennis players. With that in mind we asked long time college and ITF professional tennis player Keelan Oakley to share his experiences working with The Physio Rooms team. Keelan is an ITF professional tennis player, with a career high ranking of 997. He currently tours the ITF circuit playing challenger events across Germany, Egypt, Cyprus, Great Britain and many other international venues. Keelan is coached by Barry Fulcher (@BF_Tentrade) out of Preston Lawn Tennis Club who has recently achieved number 1 ranking in men's over 35 tennis. Keelan also works closely with Brendan Hayes (@theconditioning) and has a long term working relationship with The Physio Rooms team, namely clinical lead Tom Goom.

In Keelan's own words...

"Throughout the 2102 season I struggled with low back pain. This pain gradually got worse with symptoms spreading to my left leg. By the end of the year I was having difficulty walking. After a MRI it was discovered that I had severe intervertebral disc damage that would require surgery. In Feb 2013 I had back surgery on a disc bulge L4/L5, the surgeon predicted it would be a few months or so at least before I would be back on court even to do the absolute basics of hitting for a light hour with minimum movement.

At that time I was having physio twice a week and we managed to halve the recovery time and I was back on court in about 4/5 weeks. This was great as I was able to prepare well for a summer of competing and I reached a career high ranking of 997 ATP in the next 6 months.

Unfortunately I had another flare up at a tournament in Cyprus. It didn't require surgery but I was out for another 9 months. During the 9 months I had physio once a week and could do some really limited stuff on court and bits in the gym. Tom had the idea of getting my 'team' together (physio Tom, Fitness trainer Brendan, coach Barry) so we could all discuss the best way of getting me back on court as soon as possible.

This really helped speed up my recovery as everybody was working towards the same goals, we covered everything from what Tom and Brendan would be doing with me (a lot of hamstring work!!) and a detailed breaking down of my footwork and technique to find a way to prevent a complete blow out whilst in competition. This involved extensive video analysis of my technique. Going back to basics with footwork drills and agility. We built strength and control through gym sessions.

On court we worked endlessly to build new movement patterns, it really felt like I was learning to play tennis all over again which in essence is what we were trying to achieve to prevent further break downs. We would (and still do) meet every 2/3 months to keep on top of my programme and see if there are any ways we can improve it and so far so good! A few exercises from Tom and a massage once a week, enjoying IP sessions a lot more than rehab!!"

If you are suffering with a sports injury and getting frustrated missing out on the activity you love, then The Physio Rooms are here to help. For any advice or to book an appointment please contact us at one of our clinics.