INJURY can be a professional athlete's worst nightmare. This year, Super League footballer Yuzaiman Zahari's season ended prematurely following a serious knee injury.
“The incident took place during the third match of the season against Selangor Public Bank in the Super League. I went for a 50-50 challenge and injured my left knee during the collision,” said Yuzaiman, who played as a stopper for the Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MPPJ).
“The knee injury was the first major one I suffered since I turned profes-sional in 1997. I felt lost when I got injured because football was my bread and butter.”
Yuzaiman, 27, needed two operations to repair his damaged left meniscus.
His first surgery took place in February. He returned to training too early and aggravated his injury. In May, his left knee went under the knife again.
Two weeks after his second operation, he sought the help of National Sports Institute (NSI) sports therapist Jorg Teichmann at the NSC rehabilitation unit in Bukit Jalil.
Yuzaiman had to undergo five hours of physiotherapy a day (split into two sessions) for five days a week. He also had to attend a morning session on Saturday.
The systematic and structured approach that he followed during this rehabilitation period has helped him to get back on the pitch.
Said Teichmann: “Injured athletes are not chronically ill. They are only injured in certain places. During rehabilitation, they should keep fit and build up the muscles on the other parts of their body.”
Initially, Yuzaimi only worked on his upper body. The early rehabilitation process included ultra-sound treatments, isometric training, running on soft mattresses and aqua jogging.
After that, he commenced high-impact training including long distance running, sprinting and jumping.
During weight training, the loads were increased gradually in a bid to strengthen his lower body. In addition, co-ordination drills were incorporated to improve his balance.
“I enjoy my work because I am able to assist high-performance athletes to get back to sports. But, it is not easy working with them.
“My philosophy is simple. They must train harder in order to recover. I treat all athletes the same.
“We provide them with a conducive and friendly atmosphere to train. We change the programmes constantly so that they are not boring,” Teichmann added.
In fact, Yuzaiman hated the regimented training at first.
“Despite my early hesitation, I followed Jorg's programme because I wanted to get well. Thanks to him, I have learned many new exercises,” said Yuzaiman, who was afraid of losing his job despite having signed a two-year (2005 and 2006) contract with MPPJ.
The rehabilitation has made Yuzaiman stronger. He can now bench press 85kg compared to his previous best of 70kg. He has also improved on his single leg press from 90kg to 120kg.
Best of all, Yuzaiman is back in training with MPPJ.
“Yuzaiman had a very serious injury. I feel proud of him because he has not only become physically stronger, he has also found a new positive attitude,” Teichmann added.