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July 8th, 2020 – Injury Update

Hey everyone!
Just wanted to check in and give another quick update as it’s now been a few weeks since my last post. 

I had a minor setback a couple weeks ago and my shoulder was starting to flare up again, but after a few days of rest I’m feeling much better. 

My doctors and physios think that I may have increased the volume of hitting a bit too quickly, but I’m happy to report that I’ve been back on court for almost 2 full weeks now without pain. I even tried to serve yesterday for the first time in (a while) and although my shoulder still feels a little stiff, it wasn’t painful! 

This time around, I’m being very cautious about taking it SLOWLY and easing into normal training again!

Though I am still not quite ready to think about competition just yet, I am really looking forward to getting back out there! I’m doing everything I can to increase my chances of being able to compete again at some point this season (assuming it’s safe and the tour has resumed.)

Lou

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10 Questions Podcast

I’ve started a podcast called “10 Questions” where I interview fellow athletes about their careers in sport, the work they do off the field/court/stage, and more. I ask fans to send in questions to ask the guest of the week’s episode, and choose 10 questions for the interview.

The podcast will be broken down into seasons. The first season aired April 4th and consisted of 5 short episodes, each ranging from 15-30 minutes. The interviews are short & sweet, and the guests included fellow tennis player Noah Rubin, PGA Tour Doctor Dr. Ara Suppiah, Certified personal trainer Meghan Hayden, Professional Soccer player Erika Tymrak, and Paralympic Silver Medalist Tess Routliffe.

You can listen on Apple or Spotify, or on the BuzzSprout Website!

Season 2 guests/airing date – TBD

BuzzSprout:

Apple:

Spotify:

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Music To Feed

Kristie Ahn and I created our “Music To Feed” initiative earlier this month in an effort to raise money to help those in need during this time of crisis. All proceeds go directly to World Central Kitchen for COVID-19 Relief.

We will be recording a series of virtual “concerts” and would love if anyone who is financially able would help contribute to a cause that is important to us. Our GoFundMe (linked below) has more information about how to request a song and make a donation.

We wanted to pick an organization that would impact as many people as possible. WCK supports small businesses while also feeding those most in need: food-insecure families / seniors / healthcare workers. 

Donations can be made anonymously if preferred, and any amount will help make an impact! Thank you in advance for your contribution. More information about WCK below:

World Central Kitchen (WCK) is a non-profit organization addressing food insecurity during and after natural disasters and humanitarian crises, while also operating long-term programs aimed at improving livelihoods by strengthening local food ecosystems. 

They are currently working across America to safely distribute individually packaged, fresh meals in communities that need support – for children and families to pick up and take home, as well as delivery to seniors who cannot venture outside. WCK is now active in dozens of cities providing nearly 200,000 fresh meals every day.

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May 18th 2020 – Injury update + a bit of background

Hello everyone – As you may know by now, I’ve been out of the game for just about 9 months due to a shoulder injury. What started as a minor nagging pain progressed into a partial tear in my rotator cuff, which sounds somewhat innocuous, but in reality, it became impossible to generate any power above my shoulder, so serving was out of the picture. As I look back on the timeline of my pain progression, I can easily say that in hindsight I should have taken time off to get it checked sooner. However, timing wasn’t on my side; it was dead in the middle of the season and I underestimated the severity of the injury. My goal for last summer was to be in top form for US Open, but when I was playing a WTA event in Bucharest just before, my injury peaked. After my match, simply lifting my arm above my head caused such intense pain like I’d never felt before.

I returned to the US and immediately went in for an MRI, which came back inconclusive, as these scans sometimes do. The diagnosis was an impingement and some inflammation in my rotator cuff and bicep tendon, caused by overuse and naturally hyper-mobile joints. After a few days the pain subsided and my range of motion seemed to be back to a decent (but not ideal) level, so competing in 10 days was not totally out of the question. I received a cortisone shot to manage inflammation, but even with cortisone masking a lot of the pain, I was unable to serve. I withdrew from the US Open and went back to the doctor (and a second doctor) for more scans. This time, an X-Ray and a contrast MRI showed a severe partial rotator cuff tear, which matched the level of pain and lack of mobility I was experiencing. 

The 3 doctors I visited all had slightly different projections of what my recovery and next steps should be. My first choice, and the more widely agreed upon option, was to start rehabbing daily to mitigate inflammation while maintaining strength. Surgery was thrown around as an option, but one that I wanted to save as a last resort only after all other attempts at healing failed. The “risk” associated with rotator cuff surgery was permanently losing a percentage of my shoulder’s range of motion; obviously something I wanted to avoid if possible.

After rehabbing for 3+ months with very little improvement, I needed a new course of action. I went back to my doctor(s), and one suggested a round of PRP (Platelet-rich plasma) shots to promote tissue healing as a last resort before surgery. I was told that any improvement in pain or range of motion would be a positive sign, but up until now I had not experienced much improvement. I decided to give PRP a try, the catch being it would take approximately 2-3 months for my body to feel/benefit from the effects. The shots were extremely painful, partially because my doctor opted to avoid any lidocaine numbing agents so that he could have the most accurate and exact placement. (Thanks, I guess, but the pain was REAL.)

I took a protected ranking (it was now 6+ months) and in those 3 months I continued physical therapy daily. Each week I attempted to hit groundstrokes just to maintain some rhythm, but I was still having pain.

Now, 9 months since competition, while still not 100%, I can say I finally see some progress! I’m now able to hit consistently (every other day) without pain – any more than that and my shoulder gets sore – but I am optimistic that this is a step in the right direction. Seeing any progress makes me feel hopeful after months of being stagnant. My next steps are unclear; with quarantine still in effect I’ve had to hold off on going for my follow up scan and MRI post PRP shots. I will continue to keep this blog updated – but for now, I’m happy to be back on court consistently, and looking forward to attempting serves sometime this week.