Austin Corbett’s getting back on his feet

He’s done a lot of cardio and core work. He’s done several quarter squats with his body weight and moved up to half-squats. There are the days when he’s doing leg extensions with a mighty 15 pounds. But the act of putting an actual weight bar on his back and doing what he’s done for years seems like an achievement.

“I think sometimes it can be very challenging because things always come easily for some of them,” staff athletic trainer Katy Rogers said. “They’re skilled beyond the average person in most aspects. And so something so basic can sometimes be frustrating for an athlete.”

Rogers has gotten to know Corbett well over the last three months since the injury. The athletic training staff becomes family to these guys when they’re well, but when players are hurt, they take on even more duties. Part of it is a therapist, part of it is a teacher, and part of it becomes a cheerleader. Because when a football player is used to squatting hundreds of pounds, the little steps can seem sort of insignificant.

“You have to document and watch the entire progress to see, ‘OK, we went from 10 pounds to now we’re doing 100 pounds, right?'” Rogers said. “So you have to really highlight those big milestones, especially in long-term rehab because you’re with them from day to day to day. So then you can go back and say, ‘Remember when we were here?'”

“So, initially, he was limited in his depth, so you start with like a mini-squat. So he’s doing a tiny little mini-squat, then a quarter-squat, and then he works on half-squats. And then, you can add weight to a quarter-squat.So like this week, we’ve added the bar to his back, and we’re going to add the bar to his back with a quarter-squat.And then he’ll go work on loading weight with that quarter-squat until they can get to a half-squat that’s loaded.”

Those incremental steps of improvement can work on you in your mind as much as your quadriceps. Because when you’re in this process, it can be hard to imagine an empty bar as a step in the right direction. But when it comes a month after your strength work comes from a blood-flow restriction device (which simulates resistance training by squeezing an area of ​​the body to push blood out, then letting it back in), sometimes people have to remind you that thing are being accomplished.

“I think a big part of it, too, is just the educational aspect of our part,” physical therapist Kylan Smith said. “It’s important that we have to do step by step to get them to buy into that a little more. Sometimes it’s hard to think about, why are we doing this exercise, that sort of thing. So just making sure that we spend time educating them, like, why what we’re doing is important and how that’s going to get us to the next step.

“So it’s nice with him because he has a kinesiology background. So he knows a lot of what we’re talking about. And so I think it’s exciting for him to also understand what’s going on with his body.”