My name is Bradley Klahn. I’ve been a professional tennis player on the ATP Tour for 9 years and this is a diary of my journey to recovery.
The game of tennis has given me more than I could ever ask for. I’ve competed against the best in the world over the last nine years, established close relationships that will carry on long after I have hung up the sticks, and traveled the world playing a game I love. Tennis owes me nothing.
What often hides beneath the surface though is the pain and agony, physically and mentally, of traveling from country to country asking the body to perform at its peak level against the world’s best day in and day out. Like other professional athletes, we train relentlessly. My trainers and I are constantly asking:
- How do I stay in my best physical and mental condition?
- What should I eat and drink for muscle soreness I inevitably feel?
- How do I prevent cramping in tennis – in training and in matches that can keep me from performing at my best?
Occasionally, the barriers prove a worthy opponent and things break, something I have been unable to fully avoid.
As I lay on the table before that third surgery, there was a certain sense of peace that washed over me, helplessly waiting to be wheeled into the operating room. Sure, questions had been flooding my mind in the month leading up to surgery:
- Will I be able to recover and get back on the court?
- What will recovery even look like this time and will my tennis cramping be even worse
- Is this how my tennis career ends?
I thought about my parents, my siblings, the coaches and physical therapists during my pro career, and the peers who have pushed me to achieve heights I didn’t dream possible when I was an 11 year old boy starting out in Poway, CA.
- Did I do enough to make them proud and honor them for the sacrifices they’ve made to support me in my dreams?
- Can I leave the game with no regrets?
As I reflected back on my career and achievements, I didn’t have the answers to those questions. At that moment, I put the trust in my surgeon, Dr. Robert Watkins, and prepared to tackle the fresh start awaiting me on the other side.
I’m now on that other side. I’ll admit, it’s painful and tougher than I previous recoveries. I willed myself through the initial phases of rehab, navigating the pain that popped up, the monotony of exercises and the mental stress of not being able to do what was once effortless.
For me, one secret weapon is HOTSHOT. I drink a HOTSHOT for Muscle Soreness before I dig into the next rehab session or training session. Knowing I won’t be as sore tomorrow means I can push harder today.
I also always keep HOTSHOT for Muscle Cramps in my bag. When I feel that twinge of a cramp coming on, I take a HOTSHOT and then just keep pushing.
Now different questions float around in my head: As I woke up from the anesthesia, and in the weeks and months that followed, different questions started to float around my head:
- Do I have what it takes to keep going through the back rehab process for a third time?
- Can I still compete with these young guys who continue to transcend the game and whose bodies don’t have the same wear and tear?
As these questions loomed, the answers started to come naturally.
Here’s what I now tell myself as I drink my HOTSHOT, grit my teeth and prepare for another core exercise. This barrier is here to test my resolve, but I will bust through it. I am determined to finish my career on my own terms!
I’m not done!
Featured image credit: Wikipedia