Being a top-level athlete sounds like a dream job, but trials, tribulations, and challenges accompany it. Pushing your body to the limits and competing at the uppermost level means you risk injury and pain. Therese Taabbel is one of the top female riders on the GKA Kite World Tour. Unfortunately, at the last tour stop of 2020, Therese blew her ACL and has been on a recovery journey ever since.
We sat down with Therese to discuss how her road to recovery has been and what steps she’s taken to ensure a strong and swift return to riding and competition.
Therese tore her meniscus and ACL during the semi-final in Brazil at the 2020 Ilha do Guajiru GKA Kite World Tour Event.
Did you know that you hurt your knee right away?
I had a bad landing in an S-mobe during the Semi-Final in Brazil, I heard the knee pop and felt instant pain. My friends helped me out of the water because I was unable to get out of my boots. But as I got to the beach I tried to stand up and I walked a couple of steps. I was so filled with adrenaline and my mind was still in the game that I didn’t feel anything. So I decided to continue with the heat. I did two more tricks and on the third trick, I had too much pain and realized I had to stop. I did not realize it was such a serious injury before I was at the hospital and told me both meniscus and ACL were broken.
Have you adapted your diet to help with healing?
No, not really. I have tried to continue with my healthy diet. I have been a vegetarian for 5 years, and eat mostly plant-based. Now during recovery, I have focused on my protein intake and making sure I take the right supplements for me to recover the best possible.
What has been the hardest part about being injured?
The hardest part was probably the first 1,5 months where I was on crutches and not allowed to put weight on the leg. I had to figure out who I am without being active and my sport.
What has been your biggest takeaway from recovering from injury?
I am not sure yet. I am still trying to see the positive takeaway from this injury, but to be honest, it is still hard for me. Ask me again when I am on the other side. But so far:
- You can’t control time. It takes time to heal and you will.
- Your team is everything. You can’t do it all by yourself. My physios are key for a good rehab.
Will this change your riding style at all?
No. I love what I do.
Can you walk us through a day in the life of your rehabilitation?
I would normally have rehab (lower body strength) in the morning, it’s around 1.5 hours. Then I have a short session with my physio. Then I bike home and study for a couple of hours (I took on some extra courses this semester haha). Then I finish the day with some mobilization. On the days I don’t have rehab I do cardio on a stationary bike in the morning and upper body in the afternoon.
What has your training regime been like?
I do rehab 3 times a week, which now consist of lower body strength training. The main focus is to build strength in the left leg before we can move on to jumping and running. My program is built on the following exercises: leg press, leg extensions, front squat, RDL, Hip Thrust and step-ups. I just started to do cardio on a stationary bike, but the knee only allows me to do it 2 times a week. And then upper body strength 2 times as well. I try to keep myself busy in the gym and work towards my end goal: returning to the water.
What has been the most significant injury of your career?
This one. Broken ACL and major meniscus repair.
What are your 2021 plans?
Hopefully kiting by the end of this year. I can’t wait. Luckily I am on the water every day in my dreams.
When will we see you back at competitions?
Unfortunately, I won’t be ready for the 2021 start of the season. I am hoping to compete in Brazil for the last stop of 2021, but it really depends on the output of my rehab. I will for sure be ready for 2022.