Innova Star Team member and 2015 USWDGC Champ, Hannah Leatherman, is off to a terrific start to the 2017 season. Which makes her a perfect candidate for our next Player Spotlight. Her first two events of the year were the Florida Disc Golf Championship Invitational, followed by the Suwannee Open this past weekend. Hannah took down first place at both events. After a 2016 season where she battled several nagging injuries, Hannah is excited to see the new tournament season begin.
Last year you battled injury off and on throughout the season. These first two performances would suggest that you are feeling better. Do you feel like you are back to 100% physically?
I did have quite a few injuries I dealt with last season. It started with an abdominal muscle tear back in February, which I didn’t give a chance to adequately heal before playing again. This led to numerous injuries to follow as my body tried to make up for the torn abdominal muscle in other ways. After taking almost 3 months off from playing tournaments this winter, being evaluated by a specialist, and following a specific treatment plan I am happy to say that my body is feeling great and is finally back to full throttle.
Can you tell us a bit about your professional experience as a physical therapist, and how that factored into your own recovery process?
With all the training and experience I have had as a physical therapist it is easy to identify and treat injuries that come my way. That being said, I have learned during this past year how important it is to seek input from someone else rather than trying to evaluate and treat all of my own injuries.
In sports it has always been very difficult for me to decide how much pain is too much when determining when I should sit out from an event, or take a break. I have a history of various injuries from my years as a soccer player, and I had always prided myself in coming back from injuries very quickly and playing through many of them. I have always tended to push myself past my limits, thinking that I will be ok. I have realized that as I am getting older this is not the case anymore.
So what have you, or will you, do differently in the future?
At the end of this past season I finally decided to go get evaluated by another physical therapist who specializes in sports injuries. His thorough evaluation of me identified very specific areas of weakness in my body that were leading to injury in disc golf. The asymmetry between the left and right sides of my body were astounding just from the sheer number of repetitions I perform with the throwing and putting motions in any given week.
We came up with a treatment plan to address each area and I felt drastically better in a very short period of time. I have built off this evaluation and treatment plan and am currently working to develop more disc golf specific injury prevention and corrective exercises that I hope to share with other disc golfers in the future.
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who are dealing with injury, or perhaps some tips to avoid injuries related to the throwing motions?
I would recommend getting evaluated by a physical therapist quickly after an injury, because they will be able to determine a treatment plan specific to your injury, your sport, and your body, that will be most effective in getting you back to playing as quickly as possible. I would also recommend spending time throwing, and putting with your non-dominant side. We use the same muscles over and over in our dominant leg, core, and arm when playing disc golf so we have to pay extra attention to the other side of our body in order to prevent injury. This would also include spending time using corrective exercises to improve symmetry in our bodies.
The courses at the Suwannee Music Park offer a ton of variety. Did FPO and MPO play the same tees and pin positions? If so, your performance would have landed you in 8th place in the Open, and beating more than two thirds of the MPO field.
No we didn’t! We all played the long tees first round. Then in the second and third rounds FPO played shorts and MPO played longs with different pin positions second and third rounds.
At most tournaments you attend, are MPO and FPO divisions playing the same tees and pin positions?
I have seen an increase in cases where tournament directors choose to have the FPO division play different courses or course layouts than the MPO division.