Understanding Steven Stamkos's rapid recovery

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It's unfathomable. It's crazy. It's unreal. It's Steven Stamkos participating in practice with his team less than three months after breaking his leg. It's amazing and there

As reported earlier, Steven Stamkos has reached a milestone in his recovery from the leg he broke in November. He finally skated with his team today during morning skate. He had been skating with the scratches (on game days) and the other guys coming back from injury.

To the average person, his speedy recovery seems almost other-worldly. To have broken his lower leg, have surgery on it to implant a rod, and then to be walking without crutches or a walking boot two weeks after sustaining the injury is something short of miraculous. The phrase perhaps most widely used has been "he isn't human."

And that's because, for us fans, it's something out of science fiction. We wouldn't be able to do that, and we don't know anyone else who would be able to do that. So it appears crazy to us that any human being would be able to walk without aid, however gingerly, two weeks after breaking a leg.

That's because it is crazy, but it's also because he's a professional athlete.

First off, typically the better shape you're in, the faster you heal. And Stamkos is in way better shape than the majority of humanity, having undergone Gary Roberts's training program in the offseason. Also, younger people heal faster than older people, and Stamkos is only 23. I know that it seems like he's older, because he's played in the NHL for five years already, but he's the same age as a guy having just graduated college.

Then, he's got a rod in his leg that's carrying most of the weight for the break. That's important, since that means he doesn't have to sit around and wait for the bone to be able to take his weight. Waiting for a bone to heal enough to take weight, especially in a leg, is usually the longest part of the healing process.

Finally, there's the personal attention that he's getting that the average person doesn't. Trainers are making appointments for him, and helping him with rehab every day. Doctors are on retainer so that he can get into an office to get looked at days before anyone else could. The team, of course, provides top equipment for him to use to do physical therapy. And if they don't have something a doctor or a therapist suggests he use, then they have the money to buy it for him.

And that's really the biggest difference between athletes and everyone else. They're surrounded by people who are at their immediate disposal to help them recover - since using their bodies are necessary for their occupation, and they usually get hurt on the job as well - while the rest of us have to do all the calling and trying to fit things into schedules for ourselves. It makes a big difference to be able to go to work and have someone there to help you rehab every day, instead of trying to fit it into your work day two to three times a week, if you're lucky.

So from that perspective, maybe it's not so surprising that Steven Stamkos can probably return to the Lightning lineup before the Olympic break.

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