Megan Rapinoe is the reigning queen of soccer.
The 34-year-old forward just led the U.S. Women’s National Team to its second consecutive World Cup title, earning the Golden Ball (presented to the best player in the tournament) in the process. On the pitch, she’s known for creativity, tenacity, and technical brilliance. What most people don’t know is that she had to endure three torn ACLs to get here.
In 2006, in the midst of a spectacular sophomore season at the University of Portland, she tore her left ACL. After a long rehab process, she returned to the field the next season—but played only two games before tearing the same ACL.
“I know this sounds weird, but getting hurt was one of the best things that ever happened to me,” Rapinoe told the U.S. Soccer official website in 2009. “It really gave me a different perspective. Before, everything was going how it was supposed to be and I wasn’t really appreciative of what I was doing and what it took to be there. The injury grounded me in a lot of different ways. The rehab process makes you stronger on all fronts, mentally and physically. I feel stronger and a better person for it. I would never wish it on anyone, but I don’t wish I could take it back.”
Rapinoe went on to make roughly 100 appearances for the USWNT while remaining quite healthy before tearing her right ACL in December of 2015, nearly nine years after her first torn ACL. Rapinoe was 30 years old at the time, but she never thought about letting the injury cut her career short.
“I’ll be doing everything I can to get healthy as soon as possible. This is obviously a very difficult time, but I do feel super confident in my recovery as I’ve gone through this before and I know what the process will be like,” Rapinoe said in a press release.
Rapinoe’s star has only risen in recent years, as she earned her first NWSL Best XI nod in 2018 as a member of the Seattle Reign, and her 2019 has been, as you already know, a non-stop showcase of brilliance.
Injuries happen to everyone, so when an injury does occur, Rapinoe advises patience. She says, “Don’t think, ‘Oh, I’m going to be screwed forever.’ Be patient. Focus on what you can control. There’s no rushing your body, so don’t put yourself on a timeline. Be patient with the healing and be kind to your body…It tests you. But I think it helped me grow and learn how to take care of my body.”
In 2015, Rapinoe shared some key moves from her pre-hab routine. These moves can help fire up the muscles, such as the glute medius, needed to help prevent knee valgus, which is a key cause of ACL injury.
RELATED: 3 Essential ACL Injury Prevention Exercises for Female Athletes
Megan Rapinoe’s Mini-Band Prehab Routine
Do It: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, hips back, back flat. Place two mini-bands around your legs, one just above the knees and one around the ankles. Keeping one leg stationary, rotate the other knee in and then back out. Complete a set on one side before repeating with the opposite leg.
Feel It: Working your glutes and outer hips.
Sets/Reps: 3×10 each leg
Lateral Straight Leg Walk
Do It: Stand tall, feet hip-width apart, with a mini-band above your knees and another one around your ankles. Walk to the side taking small steps. Drive your elbows back with each step. Step with your lead leg first followed by your trailing leg. Continue for the full set. Reverse directions and repeat.
Feel It: Working your glutes.
Sets/Reps: 3×5 each direction
Do It: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms at your sides, with mini-bands above your knees and around your ankles. Initiating the move with your hips, squat down and back until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you descend, raise your arms out in front of you. Return to a standing position by pushing through your hips while lowering your arms. Continue for the remainder of the set.
Feel It: Working your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.
RELATED: 6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury
Photo Credit: SKLZ