Lindsey Vonn has had a number of recoveries, but her latest one is the hardest of her career to date, she said. In true Vonn fashion, though, she never gave up or let the injury get her down, yet again inspiring and awing fans, skiers, and anyone who’s had an injury. At the same time, she’s letting competitors know she will be in full force at the 2018 Olympics.
On November 10, 2016, Vonn crashed while training in Copper Mountain, Colorado. She suffered a fractured humerus and severe nerve damage in her right arm. Upon waking up from surgery, Vonn couldn't move her right hand—she had no function in any part of it due to the nerve damage.
So the four-time World Cup overall champion—who lives by the motto “If you fall, pick yourself back up”—did what she always does. She focused 100 percent on her goal: this time, recovering as fully and quickly as possible so she could give it her all in the 2016-2017 race season and at the 2018 Olympics. “I’ve definitely had a lot of injuries in my career, but I think in the end it’s made me a stronger person,” she says. “So I don’t see them as major setbacks. I see them as opportunities to be stronger and better.”
Working closely with her physical therapist, Lindsay Winninger, Vonn worked hard to be better each day, even when she was tired or in pain. “What’s inspiring about working with Lindsey is that she’s got this incredible motivation and drive that you’re not going to find with all athletes,” says Winninger, founder of Sports Rehab Consulting. “It’s inspiring to be around because she actually sets those goals and meets them in pretty much everything she does.”
A week after surgery, she could move her wrist, and with time she could wiggle her fingers. She worked with the TheraBand FlexBar Resistance Bar to improve her grip to hold her pole, and the TheraBand CLX to rebuild strength in her arm muscles. No matter where Vonn headed, she could toss the FlexBar and CLX in her bag and maintain the regimen from Winninger, helping her recover faster.
“I use Theraband in pretty much everything I do with rehab,” Vonn says. “Everyone uses them [TheraBand products] for a reason--because they work. The nice thing about the CLX is that there are different resistances, so basically anyone can use it and it’s easy to play around with what works best for you.”