Getting back in the game
Lindsey Morgan is sweet, soft-spoken, kind to kids, and fierce on the field. A triple threat in volleyball, basketball, and softball, the 16-year-old junior at Pacific Grove High School plays sports year-round, consistently, competitively, and without complaint. Even when it hurts.
For more than three years, Lindsey has played all three sports; when one season ends, the next sport has already begun. Volleyball conditioning starts during the summer; and the season goes through fall until the end of November, when basketball is already well under way. Lindsey, captain of her basketball team, shoots hoops through January, when the softball season starts warming up. She’s out on the field through the end of May, when it’s time to return her attention to volleyball.
In the meantime, Lindsey earns As and Bs in the classroom, babysits on weekends, and gets involved in civic affairs, such as serving as queen of the royal court for the annual Feast of Lanterns festival in Pacific Grove.
In January 2010, Lindsey’s pace caught up with her. During a basketball game, her heel hurt so much it became hard to step on it. Unwilling to let down her team, she wrapped her foot in an ankle brace and played through the pain, racking up four games in one week. But the brace only made it hurt more.
Finally she went to see her doctor, Alan Rosen, who sent her to Christopher Meckel, an orthopedic surgeon.
“Dr. Meckel diagnosed the problem as Achilles tendinitis resulting from overuse, and he sent me to rehabilitation at Community Hospital for several weeks,” she says. “If that didn’t work, I was going to have to wear a special boot for six weeks.
“I was already missing three weeks of basketball and I couldn’t do my daily P.E., which is running and weightlifting to help get ready for sports. I didn’t want to be in a boot during softball season. I still went out with the team because I’m dedicated, but I couldn’t play, which is all the motivation I needed to do exactly what the physical therapist told me to do.”
For the next month, Lindsey worked with Kathryn Valdez, a physical therapist at Community Hospital, who started with gentle stretching, alternating between ice and heat application, and some easy pedaling on a stationary bike for increased circulation.
As Lindsey progressed, her strength improved, and she felt no pain during her rehabilitation activities. Valdez added plyometrics, a kind of training that improves muscle strength and elasticity, and which uses the fast, powerful movements Lindsey needs in her sports. When Valdez encountered weakness in Lindsey’s hip and ankle, she incorporated jumping and pivoting and other basketball movements into her program.
Kathryn Valdez, physical
therapist in Rehabilitation
“Lindsey went back into softball with no pain,” says Valdez, “but I met with her one more time to assess her transition back onto the field and from one sport to another. I tell my patients, these young athletes whose goal is to get back in the game, that it’s my goal, too. I know how important it is to them, but they have to do it right.
“It’s fun to work with the high school population because they are really, really motivated. They have a goal, and we get there together. And they are so excited when they are able to play again, without pain.”
Lindsey completed her softball season, pain-free, and added weekend hikes to her spring and summer schedule. She continues to stretch, strengthen, and look for moments to slow down.
“My parents, all my doctors, and my physical therapist think I had an overuse injury,” she says, “because I really didn’t get any breaks between one sport and the next. Now I know there are days when I need to rest and days when I can go harder and push myself. But I have to read my body and realize when I can’t work as hard as I want to.
“I’m just so happy to be back in the game and without pain. Kathryn did an awesome job helping and training me; so did everyone else at Community Hospital. I give them an A+. They worked around my school schedule, so I could do the work to mend my tendon and still keep up my grades.”
Community Hospital’s outpatient Rehabilitation Services is located at Peninsula Wellness Center in Marina.
For more information, call 831-883-5640.