Danny Trevathan And The Energetic Body

Doc Bear sheds light on the likely reasons Danny Trevathan has suddenly exploded and returned to form. He's called 'Doc' for a reason.

Danny Trevathan and fellow Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall spent the offseason bonding together. Danny was rehabilitating his left knee, which was injured three times last season.

Brandon was rehabilitating a Lisfranc right foot injury — he’s playing this season with two screws in his right foot. They will be removed after the season. The two constantly drove each other on, knowing that they’d be playing shoulder to shoulder at the ILB position — if they could both make it back. They did.  

Trevathan led the Broncos in tackles in 2013, with 152 — 105 of them solo. He also had two sacks, three interceptions, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and 10 passes defensed. With Danny’s injuries in 2014, the torch passed to Marshall. 

Marshall had 119 tackles, as well as two sacks, two forced fumbles, one interception and nine passes defensed in 2014. He would have had more, but he went down to the Lisfranc injury. Todd Davis took over in the last three games and played well.  

In 2015, Trevathan and Marshall are neck-and-neck in tackles. Trevathan has 78 total (50 solo), while Marshall has 81 total (61 solo). What’s interesting about Danny’s work this season is that when you look at his Pro Football Focus stats, it wasn’t until Weeks 5 and 6 that he really got his feet under him.

He’d only been a middling ILB (statistically) in Weeks 1-4, but suddenly burst out in tackles in Week 5. He then showed strong positive numbers in both tackling and cumulative scores in Weeks 6-12. Why?

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A lot of possibilities exist. To use Occam’s Razor, the simplest answer is that it took that long for his knee to fully heal. It can be hard to define the term ‘fully healed’ in professional sports. My clinical experience showed that ‘healed’ often goes well beyond the pure medical definition.

I found that both pro and amateur sports injuries aren’t fully healed until the player knows he can trust it completely. If he can’t cut at full speed, mirror his receiver or drive his shoulder into the ball carrier at full power, without subconsciously wondering whether the old injury is going to bear his full force, it isn’t truly healed.  

Moreover, I found that the players had an intuitive sense of when that moment came — or didn’t. It went beyond the bones and tissues themselves. It was deeper than the ligaments they repaired in the surgical suite or strengthened in therapy.

It was all of those things too, but those are often the things we do to or for a patient. What I discovered was known by generations of physicians before me as coming from within the patient.

It is a deep intuitive comprehension of the body’s innate knowingness; of things that a physician may be aware of, but cannot experience other than within themselves. In modern times it’s often called the Energetic Body.

I learned to encourage the players I saw to relax, practice conscious breathing and to go inward, to learn to find and trust that knowingness. If we can come to leave out the mindful issues of contracts, competitions and compensation, it’s always there within each of us. Sometimes it functions on a level below consciousness, aware of that which we are not. It waits for us to find it there. 

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For Trevathan, there’s a case to be made that he reached that point during Weeks 5 and 6. He was suddenly tackling like the player who lead the SEC in that skill during his junior and senior years.

He made 10 tackles against Oakland in Week 5, then eight more against Cleveland in Week 6. In Week 9 against Indianapolis, Trevathan truly broke out with an unheard of 19 tackles. It was a clear declaration that his leg was fully healed.

We’re not kept up to date on how much the players are injured. By the later part of the season, a realistic injury report would cover most of the team. Even on the injury form, there’s no box to be checked that says, “It’s physically OK, but it doesn’t feel trustworthy yet.”

Yet, that’s a very real part of most players’ recovery. It’s important that a recovering area doesn’t hurt. It’s equally important that the player feels able to fully trust it during a play, consciously and subconsciously.

When a player’s level of production suddenly drops, fans think of slumps, problems of focus or technique issues. Those may be true, but more often than not the player has an injury. It’s usually one that isn’t being disclosed.

Some aren’t disclosed because the player fears losing his job, or doesn’t mind playing through pain. No matter the reason, when a good player suddenly is ‘off’, it’s likely that he’s struggling with an injury. Subconscious or conscious, they’re very real. 

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Recognizing that many instances of players’ suddenly performing at subpar levels is a sign of injury is essential to both the player and the team. If the coaches communicate this with the right attitude, it can show the player that their health does come first.

That’s a change in paradigm for the sport. It may surprise people, but I saw in clinic that this change in paradigm can allow faster and more complete healing.

In the case of Trevathan and Marshall, the injuries were caught immediately, the proper steps were taken and the players involved created a friendly competition, which helped to hasten their healing. It’s easy to see how well that worked — and why. 

Those who questioned whether Danny was fully back from his injury had a point. His body was healed by Week 1, or Luke Richesson, Greek and Co. wouldn’t have let him back on the field. What changed? 

There are far more to our bodies than just bones and connective tissues. There is also the inner athlete, that one that sees that it’s going to be a pass even though the formation and reads say run. That same function knows when it’s truly safe to go all out on what was a former problem. 

They’re different parts of the same energetic body. In this rare case, it’s clear from the statistics when the leg was fully healed. Few cases are that obvious — but the energetic body is very real in all of us. 

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Doc Bear is a Featured Columnist for MileHighHuddle. You can find him on Twitter @alloverfatman.

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