One of professional golf’s greatest players now seems unable to do much other than watch the sport he once dominated. After multiple procedures on his lumbar spine and 16 months away from the game, Tiger played in December only to find himself on the shelf again with back spasms.

In a recent interview, he stated he “may not ever feel great again” due to his lengthy injury history and surgeries. This is a far cry from what we hear most athletes say after suffering a season ending injury. We are used to hearing an athlete take an injury head on and never show signs of weakness. But what happens when the number one player in the sport slowly loses his armor over time by one injury after another?

Had Tiger Woods not been at the top of golf’s all-time win list, we would more than likely not be hearing much about his inability to stay healthy. Unfortunately when you are the dominant figure in the game and the face of the sport, you don’t get a pass. He may have benefitted by sitting out even longer to return from what may have been a third procedure on his back. But that doesn’t happen when a sport is dependent on you to draw fans and bring in ratings.

At just 41, Woods is correct in stating he may never feel great again. His list of injuries reads like that of a retired NFL lineman rather than a professional golfer. He may not be able to compete at the level at which he is accustomed to but there is no doubt in my mind he should be able to play the sport in which he re-wrote the record book. The only question is if he is willing to accept his current limitations and alter his game accordingly.

From a therapy standpoint, Tiger has most likely exhausted every possible resource both known and unknown in modern medicine. The one thing he is not used to doing is taking time off from both training/rehab and playing golf. All the gurus and specialists in the world have given their input in an effort to get Tiger back to form. But what he most likely needs is the time necessary to get himself mentally ready and the time off from the physical activity that does not appear to be helping.

We all get down after an injury and those who have suffered multiple injuries to the same body part know all too well the feeling of hopelessness that occurs. Although it may be difficult to accept the fact that your healing process might be a longer than usual, it is essential to keep your head up. It’s easy to fall into the free fall, which includes the words “I can’t”.

If you find yourself travelling down this road with no end in sight, remember that time is on your side. In due time you will learn what you can and can’t do. You will also discover that there may be several paths that will lead you to your destination. In the rehabilitation process there are no precise timelines - everything is give or take a week or month or more. Just remember the journey isn’t easy alone, so make sure your physical therapist is there to help keep you on track when you find yourself in a free fall.

Yours in Health,

Keith Pacific