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“I had to learn how to walk again” – Dalibor Fait

Story about Dalibor, professional basketball player, his serious injury, comeback and injury prevention exercises.

Dalibor and I grew up in the same hometown, Pisek in Czech Republic. We shared the same level of passion and high ambition in basketball that one day we will make it to the pro level. Dalibor left Pisek when he was 15 and went to Prague to pursue his dreams.

Although, we played in different cities and now we even live in different countries we are still friends. Today, I would like to tell you his story, experience of a serious injury and his comeback! He’s now playing his 11th season in professional basketball with experience in Men’s Czech National Team.

This is his story.

I was playing my second season in the NBL (highest league in Czech R.). I was 19 years old, just a month before my 20th birthday when it happened. Five minutes in the beginning of the game, I jumped in the defence on shot fake and turned around in the air as I was facing my opponent. When I landed, my ankle didn’t react as it should and I awkwardly stepped on tip of the foot. I felt like my leg swung from side to side and I pretty much twisted my ankle 180 degrees.

I fell on the ground holding my leg under the knee thinking it’s just ankle sprain, as I experienced some of them before. But this time it was quite different story. As I looked down at my ankle, I saw blood on the sock and I was instantly in shock.

I went to hospital, the doctor thought the ankle was broken at first, but after the X-ray he didn’t find any fractures; and diagnosed it as a torn ligament. Even so I knew that I have long recovery ahead.

I don’t know why, but as I heard the diagnosis, looking at the ankle, I just asked my mum “Mum, please give me my phone, I want to take a picture”. I don’t know why, but I took it as a challenge to return to basketball and one day I will have interesting story to tell.

The first month after surgery, I couldn’t do anything at all. When It was possible I started to work with our club physio Aneta Sobova.

She’s been a huge help, my support from day 1, not only as a physio, but also mentally going through the long recovery. We were meeting every morning at 7am and we worked together several times, sometimes until 2am in the night.

"We did around 8 hours of rehabilitation a day."

She also helped me to get another daily rehabilitation, where I was basically learning how to walk again. After 14 days, we continued again together, with our previous schedule.

My state of mind was a huge part of the process. After 2-3 months of intensive recovery, when you don’t even see your girlfriend and your personal life is not the priority, it was very frustrating.

- There were days when I thought “Is it even worth it?”

I didn’t like to repeat the exercises everyday but Aneta helped me and pushed me to continue.

I think what really got me through it was my love for basketball. I just wanted to return and come back stronger. But it was difficult to trust my body when I started playing again. I was subconsciously aware of the injury. My body tried to find ways to relieve pain from the ankle. But it’s not just the ankle, when you go back on the court after 7 months, it is hard for the whole body. The stability, sport specific movement, you basically starting from scratch.

My first game was after 11 months, it wasn’t that bad, I actually felt good. But my rehabilitation continued after every practice and games for another 6 months.

Looking back, I want to thank my physio Aneta, I also really appreciate the support from my family, my sisters and my best friend.

Of course sometimes you think “what if..?” but I take it positively. I learnt how to look after my body and how the body works. I also realised that sport is not everything.

I exercise almost every day on wobble boards, I do more flexibility and do a lot of exercise to strengthen my back and pelvis because I have scoliosis.

Before every practice, I start injury prevention with proper stretching, warm up, skipping and work with resistance bands for core/shoulders/knees.

I also do ice buckets at least for lower body. I try to focus on the correct breathing, work on my core and deep muscles.

3 favourite exercises for ankle.

1. Wobble board Stability

2. Exercise with Thera band

a) Ankle Inversion

b) Ankle Plantar Flexion

c) Ankle Dorsiflexion

3. Calf raises

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