EAS Sports NutritionMarcus Lattimore wants his surgically repaired knee ready for Week 1.As Marcus Lattimore lay on his back at the 27-yard line in th...
While making an instinctive cut against Tennessee, two defenders sandwiched him—one hitting high, the other cracking his right knee. If you watch the video, Lattimore does a barrel roll where his leg whips like a lasso into the air. His dislocated knee goes in the direction of one sideline, as his leg from knee to foot points in the opposite direction. It’s positively gruesome.
Surprisingly, Lattimore says he wasn’t in any pain at all. “But I knew of course something was wrong, and I knew my season was over.” A complete tear of his three knee ligaments (ACL, LCL, and PCL) confirmed that.
However, it didn’t take long to pick himself up. Within a week, Lattimore had reconstructive surgery performed on his knee by acclaimed surgeon Dr. James Andrews, the go-to guy to get players back on the field (just ask the NFL’s reigning rushing champ Adrian Peterson, who had the best postinjury season ever in 2012). By December, Lattimore decided to forego his next season in Columbia to declare for the NFL Draft, which kicks off tonight in New York.
To fight back against naysayers, he’s been getting himself back in shape—and possibly ready for Week 1 of the 2013 NFL season—at the Athletes’ Performance training facility in Pensacola, Florida.
“He’s one-of-a-kind as far as his motivation is concerned,” says Russ Orr, C.S.C.S., director of tactical performance at Athletes’ Performance. Since Lattimore’s arrival, Orr and his team have been fine-tuning every body part above and below the NFL hopeful’s knee to get him back up to speed.
Once a first-round lock, Lattimore now is fighting hard to prove the doubters wrong. Here’s a look at his quest to come back stronger than ever:
Tackling the Water
If Lattimore wants to juke, spin, and cut like he used to, it starts with water therapy training. “We’ve been doing a lot of plyometrics,” Lattimore says, including “jumping on boxes and moves like backpedals in the water.” Performing explosive moves like a one-legged drop squat would be impossible on land just a few months after surgery, but the water’s buoyancy allows Lattimore’s muscles to adapt to the strain and later transition to land.
Tuning Up the Wheels
All of Lattimore’s workouts begin with a dynamic warmup to prep his body for movement. “We have to continue to show him the things he can’t do so he can focus on the big picture,” Orr says. Before Lattimore can even consider jogging on a cushy track, he has to be able to gradually progress from standing in place on one leg to skipping rope to performing slow marching lunges. This movement training alone helps Lattimore lengthen and strengthen damaged tissue.
In the weight room, Orr focuses on “linking up” Lattimore’s upper body with his lower body. Along with traditional moves like Romanian deadlifts and bench presses, Orr will throw in an exercise where Lattimore’s in a bridge or kneeling position—like a kneeling dumbbell shoulder press—so his legs have to support his upper body with the right posture. “It’s pretty much just getting strength through my legs with a lot of different things to get my body right,” says Lattimore.
Clean eating and recovery, plus two workouts a day, has helped Lattimore add nearly 20 pounds of muscle since his injury, putting him at 219 pounds spread across his 5-11 frame. The smarter diet helps, but he also credits his uptick in production to EAS recovery shakes that replenish his body with electrolytes and protein throughout the day. “I don’t burn out as fast as I did,” Lattimore says. “You need every edge you can get. Just being able to have more energy during my workouts and throughout the day will help me get to that next level.”
Staying Mentally Strong
Lattimore has taken comfort in knowing he’s not the only person to ever go through arduous rehab for mangled knee ligaments. Pro Bowl players like Willis McGahee and Frank Gore—a player Lattimore patterns his style after—have reached out about coming back from similar injuries. “They all tell me pretty much the same thing: It’s all in your mind, and make sure you’re doing everything right,” he says.
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