John Withdraws From Mexico And Tahiti To Rehab Knee. Kelly Shakes His Head. - Stab Mag

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John puts more rotational force through his knee joints than most. Photo by Bosko.

John Withdraws From Mexico And Tahiti To Rehab Knee. Kelly Shakes His Head.

Knee injuries take notoriously long to rehabilitate.

elsewhere // Aug 1, 2021
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Following his Round 3 loss at the Olympic games, John has decided to waive the next two CT events to continue physical therapy on his ACL. What we saw at the Olympics felt like John surfing at 60%. I couldn’t help but wince everytime he went to the air or tried anything that put rotational force through his knee joint. In his first heat he fell on four of his first five waves. He clearly hadn’t had time to rehab properly.

In his own words:

“The opportunity to surf in Tokyo was once in a lifetime, and a risk I was willing to take. But looking at the rest of the year and talking with my medical team, the best step forward is continuing with physical therapy for the next 60 days. I want to make sure there is nothing that keeps me from competing, and surfing the way I want to in the long term.”

Knee injuries suck for a few reasons. 

For one, ligaments are poorly vascularised, meaning there is limited blood supply to deliver nutrients and factors that promote healing. Ligaments are tough, rope-like tissues that connect bone to bone and they do not simply grow back, which is why grafting is often required for reconstructive surgery. 

Two, the knees are load-bearing joints that are constantly stressed when standing, meaning recovery can be highly restrictive ones’ general freedom to move around until swelling has reduced. Not only does this mean rehab needs to be delayed until inflammation has subsided, but it also means that the stabilising muscles atrophy in the wait period. 

How an ACL snaps. Image courtesy Sports Injury Bulletin

Three, because the knee is the body’s most complex joint with four major ligaments, tendons, menisci (cartilage) and bursas all crammed into an area the size of a grapefruit, it is rare to only damage one thing in particular. Therefore, It’s unlikely that his ACL was the only thing damaged at the Margaret River event. 

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) runs through the middle of the knee connecting the tibia to the femur and and is the worst ligament you could tear in your knee with the longest healing time.

Taking this time off to rehab and reset seems like the smart thing to do if he hopes to look like a World Title threat again. 

ben reed
Probably not what the doctor prescribed. Photo by ISA/Ben Reed.

The Corona Open Mexico event will run from August 10-19 and the Outerknown Tahiti Pro will run from August 24-September 3 without JJF, Julian Wilson and possibly Gabriel Medina in attendance. 

Should John have let the 49 year old, 11x World Champ, Kelly Slater take his Olympic spot in Tokyo if he wasn’t anywhere near 100% recovered? 

Personally, I think if I was in his position I would’ve said fuck that and surfed anyway on a dodgy knee. There’s only one first Olympic games for surfing, I wouldn’t pass up that opportunity in a hurry even if I wasn’t a realistic threat for a gold medal.

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