Updated: Jun 8
If high performance has taught me anything, that is there are no hacks, no silver bullets. No shortcuts.
My cycling career has been dotted with multiple setbacks, injuries from crashes and often in the early days pushing my body in the wrong ways at the wrong times.
As a physiotherapist and having worked with world-class athletes before I became one, this in-depth knowledge of musculoskeletal physiology has been an asset to my athletic career. Call it luck or part of the skill set that got me here, this insight has enabled me to call on my experience as a practitioner multiple times throughout my career in my own rehabilitation phases.
When our bodies become damaged, a process of repair begins naturally. Of course we always want to accelerate that and get back onto our feet as soon as possible, but we can only influence the body’s repair system so much. We can help it along, and that is what physical therapy is for, and home exercise programs. But everyone’s body has its own biological cadence.
When aiming for a successful return to physical condition it becomes important to respect the body’s repair process from start to finish. I've seen many patients and injured athletes reach 80% of their rehabilitation, leaving 20% undone. Cutting recovery short leaves the body vulnerable to reoccurring or subsequent issues, and most often re-injury.
Through a combined lens of being both a practitioner and a professional athlete these are my tips for successful rehabilitation:
Establish a ‘return to optimal’ baseline from a previous measurement or performance
Use technology where possible to improve accuracy and reliability
Make a rehabilitation plan mapping out key milestones
Use objective data points to keep track of rehabilitation progress
Stay motivated by seeing improvement in numbers even if they are small gains
Take a zero-day once per week for full mental and physical recovery
Using objective data and feedback are essential to keeping motivated and engaged from start to finish. It also allows the process to remain strategic and systematic when motivation takes hold and we want to ‘jump the gun.’
A great lesson I've carried with me is to always see recovery periods through to the end. Respect the enormous capacity of our exceptionally formulated human bodies to rejuvenate, recover and adapt.
Learn to play the long game on recovery. No shortcuts.
(Photo courtesy of Mathilde L'Azou)
About Rachel Neylan, linedanceAI Advisor and Ambassador
Rachel Neylan is a professional road cyclist and Olympian currently competing on the Women’s World Tour racing circuit. In just five years, Rachel forged her own pathway from a practicing Sydney-based physiotherapist to becoming a World Championship silver medalist road cyclist. Twelve years later, Rachel continues to represent Australia racing on a world-class cycling team in Europe.
After earning a B.App.Sc in Physiotherapy from the University of Sydney, Rachel worked as a practicing physiotherapist with some of Australia’s top athletes. Completing the Oxford University Women’s Leadership Development Programme has strengthened her ability to share insights and experiences, and lead by positively influencing others. While still racing professionally on the world stage, Rachel is also an advisor to health and sports focused companies. We are super excited and honored to have Rachel on our team at linedanceAI guiding us with the lens of both a practitioner and athlete. She is also sharing her insights about movement and movement quality metrics as a contributor to the linedanceAI Movality blog.