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How 2 Football Icons Used Physical Therapy to Get Back on the Field

Football is a grueling sport that takes a significant toll on the body. Over the years, players have gotten bigger, faster, and stronger — just take a look at the average offensive lineman. Anthony Munoz was considered one of the best at the position throughout the 1980s, and he only weighed 276 pounds. Meanwhile, David Bakhtiari is regarded as one of the best left tackles in the game, and he’s perceived as smaller while weighing in at 310 pounds. The combination of speed, strength, and power makes for dazzling displays of athleticism, but it also means that these peak-performing athletes collide with 1,600 pounds of force during the average tackle. Contact like that subjects even the healthiest of people to potential injury. Many look to physical therapy as a solution or even a requirement for recovering from injury. Here’s how two of the most iconic players used PT to recover from serious injuries.

Tom Brady
It’s impossible to mention football without discussing the prolific career of No. 12. But while many people remember his multiple Super Bowl rings and record-setting seasons, few recall 2008. The opening game against the Chiefs saw Brady tear his ACL in the first quarter, which required a thorough reconstruction of his left knee and extensive physical therapy. Brady’s rigorous program helped him get back on the field faster than ever. His orthopedic surgeon told the L.A. Times, “I’ve never seen anything quite like it. With an average person, it would have taken probably twice as long to get range of motion and strength back.”

Peyton Manning
While their Hall of Fame careers are similar, Brady and Manning’s injury histories differ drastically. After undergoing spinal fusion surgery in 2011, Manning had to take his entire life back to the basics, relearning even the most menial of tasks. He couldn’t toss a dart, let alone a 50-yard pass downfield. Multiple times on his road to recovery, Manning’s doctors questioned if he would ever hold a ball again, let alone play in a Super Bowl. After an emotionally and physically strenuous routine and extensive daily private training deep into the night, Manning not only made it back but went on to have three of the best seasons in his storied career.

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