It’s long been said that size cannot be taught. But today’s professional athletes can no longer rely simply on size and raw talent to be successful. There’s much more involved with becoming amongst the elite – as lacrosse superstar Paul Rabil recently learned.
Heralded by some as the LeBron James of professional lacrosse, Rabil has done it all during his career, winning at every level – NCAA Division 1, Major League Lacrosse and National Lacrosse League. He stands at 6-foot-3, weighs about 225 pounds and has a shot that’s been clocked at 111 mph, but that’s not why he’s been successful in the sport he’s played for most of his life. Rabil has one impressive conditioning regimen that, when paired with a healthy diet, yields great results for an athlete who transitions from indoor to outdoor conditions throughout the year. But what happens to a well fit athlete like Rabil when he’s forced to miss significant time with an injury?
Earlier this year, the 27-year-old found out firsthand just what affects an injury could have on his body when he suffered a small tear in his rectus abdominis, or lower abdomen. It occurred during the MLL season, so Rabil decided to battle through it and despite slight noticeable affects to his physical game, he was still able to compete at the highest level – but it came at a price.
“I created basically a small tear in my rectus abdominis and we identified that surgery would have put me out for the season, so I played through it and maintained it and then it turned into two tears in my lower abdominal and then one tear in my adduct on my left leg,” Rabil admits. “It was pretty intensive and I had surgery as soon as the season ended.”
The types of injuries Rabil suffered meant he could miss as much as 10 weeks and although it was the offseason leading into NLL play, it could potentially set him back weeks. Thankfully, with the help of Red Bull, Rabil sought out Dr. William Myers who focused on rehabilitation. There was little resting time for the lacrosse superstar, as that wouldn’t help – instead it was back to conditioning immediately.
“Literally, the next day, he had me walk a mile, so if you’re getting out of surgery where you went under and you have to get up and walk a mile – it’s very difficult to do on Day 1,” he recalls. “How quickly you recover is amazing. By Day 5, I was walking three or four miles a day and then doing all my exercises – starting from leg lifts to hip activation work and discovering a full range of motion and a better range of motion than I had before. So for me I looked at it as an opportunity to rebuild my foundation.”
While the injury had limited his capabilities prior to the surgery, Rabil never believed it was something that could potentially threaten his career, despite having never gone through a similar situation. Rabil just took his recovery one step at a time and as his muscles began to regain their strength, he was able to get back to his typical extensive workout regimen.
“We spend about 45 minutes warming up and stretching,” he said. “A lot of build up and then we do sets of agility ladders or box jumps to get going – it takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get warm. Then we go through an agility routine, some type of endurance routine, some type of strength circuit – which takes about an hour or so – and then I spend another 40 minutes warming down.”
Add in a healthy diet comprised of tons of chicken and vegetables and it’s no surprise that Rabil has been able to get back to the sport he loves so quickly. But while he might be ready to go full-on, Rabil and his Red Bull team are taking the necessary precautions. They continue to keep a close eye on the star’s recovery and how his body is functioning – just to be safe.
Now, with the season set to begin in just a few weeks, it appears that Rabil will be set to go for the Philadelphia Wings – and from what he’s said, he’s back and in great shape. He found a way that worked for him and with the help of Red Bull and their work with other athletes, he’s ready to go.
“I’ve learned to appreciate what these other [Red Bull] athletes in other sports endure,” Rabil added.
Ed Miller is a contributor for CraveOnline Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @PhillyEdMiller or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
Photo Credit: Charley Fitzwilliam