‘She was on the cusp of needing surgery’ – How physiotherapist helped rescue Jackson’s Olympic dream

By Sports Desk‘ August 17, 2021

Three-time Tokyo Olympics medallist Shericka Jackson impressed plenty of onlookers with her speed at the recently concluded Games, but many were left even more astonished by the superb conditioning that saw her take part in four events.

Jackson claimed a bronze medal in the 100m, competed in the first round of the 200m, and claimed gold in the 4x100m, before being part of a bronze medal-winning team in the grueling 4x400m relays.

A remarkable achievement, particularly considering that only a year ago a troublesome injury threatened to seriously curtail her participation in the Tokyo Games.  Jackson suffered from severe shin splints a condition that affects the tibia and produces sharp and razor-like pain along the bone.

With the heavy demand placed on the legs by track athletes, the condition can, at worst, be debilitating enough to require surgery or at the other end of the spectrum certainly prevent the runner from delivering their full potential on the track.

When the athlete showed up at the offices of physiotherapist and performance enhancement specialist Yael Jagbir, in September of last year, her condition was much closer to needing surgery.

“It was pretty severe because if I even touched the area it was painful and she was unable to continue her season because of the pain she was in.  She would have trouble warming up and things like that, so it was very severe initially,” Jagbir told SportsMax.TV.

“I’ve seen stress fractures that you definitely need surgery.  If hers wasn’t treated properly it could have led to her needing to do surgery on her shins.  It was right on the cusp of that point that she would have needed surgery,” she added.

After months of highly specialized treatment from Jagbir, however, the athlete slowly began to see improvement and the painstaking work really paid off in April, with the Olympic qualifiers just a few months away.

“Three months between September to November we were doing some very intense work, some pool therapy, land-based therapy.  I was also doing treatment modalities to promote healing for the stress fractures,” Jagbir explained.

“When November came, she went back to training, we continued working with some modifications.  In December, she did an x-ray and the x-ray showed that they were seeing signs of healing and that was the first time she was seeing healing in the shin from when it first started in 2019.”

“We just kept working, her work ethic is impeccable, so it was a good team effort.  In April, when she did another x-ray, by that time the pain in the shin had really started to subside, she was able to train and able to sprint.  When she went for the repeat x-ray, in April, it showed no signs of fractures.  That was amazing, that was a miracle, for those fractures to heal while she was actually training is really amazing.”

Typically, a 400m runner, Jackson dropped down to the sprints for Jamaica’s national championships, where she surprised many by placing second in both the 100m and 200m sprints.  The rest, as they say, is history.

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