Could I Come Back Like Tiger?

Tiger Woods has not played in an official golf tournament since the Masters in 2020. On April 7th he once again took up his clubs in pursuit of another green jacket.

The past year and a half has not necessarily been a walk in the park for the recent Hall of Fame inductee. In December 2020 he underwent another back surgery and then in February 2021 he was in a very serious car accident. Woods suffered open fractures in his R leg, as well as injuries to his ankle and foot which required internal fixation – pins and screws.

However, Woods is no stranger to surgeries and subsequent rehab. As a long-term athlete, wear and tear are your constant companions. Over the course of his career he has had 5 back surgeries as well as 5 left knee surgeries. In May of 2021 Golf Digest published an article on Woods’ physical therapy. In the article, he described his therapy as ‘more painful than anything I have ever experienced.’ For a while, he stated, his number one goal was being able to walk on his own again.

As I watched him walk out onto the range in Augusta I couldn’t help but ask – What makes his outcome different from other individuals? What steps did he take that have allowed him to return to the Master’s? What can you or I take away from his come back that may help us persevere?

1. Physical Condition Did Tiger Woods’ athleticism contribute to his post surgical outcomes? Could my come back be better if I was in better shape before hand? Yes. Being in better shape will help you rebound faster after injury and/or surgery. In fact, getting ‘into shape’ may also stave off surgery for those aches and pains that keep you from your full activities. Talk to your doctor about an exercise program that may help you get back to tip top condition. By the way… PT can help with this too.

2. Consistency Woods noted in his Golf Digest interview that he did his routine EVERY DAY. While we all have activities that keep us busy every day, could we spare just a few minutes to pour our energy into getting our body moving properly and getting stronger? Is your body important enough to you? I would encourage you to make your body a priority. Jobs, hobbies and companions may come and go, but you only have one body per lifetime.

3. Positivity Scrolling through Instagram and golfing sites you don’t find Woods lamenting his condition. He is not speculating on his future prospects – what he might or might not be capable of in the future. He’s not making excuses for his activities. Instead, he focuses on how he is progressing and will continue to work harder. I do not know Woods, but I know that a person’s thoughts have power and Woods’ public conversations show that he’s not going to let negative comments from his own mouth limit his future. Henry Ford said it best, ‘whether you think you can or think you cannot, you are right.”

Written by Christa Ikard, PT, DPT