This Is How I Wrecked Myself
[Warning: This post contains a few graphic images.]
“Okay so, it’s kind of like martial arts, gymnastics, and breakdancing put together,” I said. I was giving my usual speech about what tricking is, but this time it was different. This time, my tricking future was hanging in the balance.
Hand paused over an iPad for taking notes, my assigned physical therapist looked at me with a kind of blank stare. Naturally, she had no idea what the fuck I was talking about.
“I sort of need to like, land on one foot,” I said, “from a flip, I mean. And then I need to swing through with my other foot, and do another flip.” At this point I just pulled out my phone to show her a video. She was impressed, but still visibly puzzled.
“Sure,” she said. “I… think I can get you back in action.” Looking down at my surgically repaired left ankle, I realized that neither one of us really believed that.
A few months earlier, I had sustained the worst injury of my life. And to be fair, it was kind of my fault. It was August of 2015, and I was at a tricking session in Nashville, Tennessee. Up until that day, I had been wearing athletic tape to support my left ankle for quite a while. It had endured a ton of sprains and strains over the previous couple of years, and I figured that with some combination of rest, tape, and extra caution, it would eventually get back to normal.
And well, today it felt normal! It felt so good, in fact, that I decided to train with no tape whatsoever. Especially because on that day, the gym was having a bit of an event for young gymnastics students and their parents to come watch the trickers. Emboldened by their cheers, I also decided to go for a double cork. And why not? I had landed plenty of them before, and even though it had been a while, I was feeling like hot shit, what with my tapeless ankle and all.
I go for one—so close! Made it to hands and feet, a good sign. And then I go for a second one. I was soaring… See, I knew I’d nail this. I ready my legs for the landing and—
It was like the sound you hear when someone cracks your back really well—except it was in my ankle. And it was agony.
I was carried into a back room, where my ankle ballooned into something purple and unrecognizable. The gym owner stuck my foot in a bucket of ice and left the room, and that’s when I let it all out. I cried like a baby—from the searing physical pain of course, but also from the fear that I’d never trick again. Did I just fuck myself up for life?
Hours later, I finally arrived at the ER and got an X-ray. The doctor checked the images, then came in and gave me the news: “Looks fine,” he said. “Probably just a bad sprain.”
I stared at him. “I really think there’s something wrong,” I said slowly. “I get sprains all the time. This feels different.”
But no matter what I said, he remained confident. And like the dumb piece of shit I am, I believed him.
For the next two months, I continued life as usual. I walked to class, got wasted at parties, even moshed a bit at a metal show. The ankle stayed swollen and bruised, but hey, that doc sure sounded like he knew what he was talking about.
It wasn’t until October that I finally went back for an MRI. (This sprain is taking a little too long to heal, I had been thinking to myself.) After the scan, my new doctor called my cell: “So, you really did a number on your ankle,” were her exact words. “I’m afraid you’re gonna need surgery.”
Turns out—surprise!—that it wasn’t just a sprain. I had a good-size fracture (check), lots of partial tendon and ligament tears (check), a complete ligament disruption (check), extensive cartilage damage (check), and oh yeah, a half-inch shard of bone that had snapped off the ankle entirely and was just floating around in there like a stupid piece of driftwood (aaaand check).
So I got the surgery, forced my friends to sign my cast, named my knee scooter “Walter,” got the cast cut off with a somewhat scary electric saw, and eventually limped my way to the physical therapist’s office.
And there I met a probably smart, well-intentioned PT who had absolutely no idea what tricking was, and no clue how to get me back on my feet. Would the surgery be for nothing? Would I never return to the sport I loved?
Well, dear reader, that’s almost what happened. This lady—and also a guy who worked with me after her—just didn’t get it. She had me running drills that would’ve worked great for a basketball player or a football player. But as a tricker, I just wasn’t improving in the ways that mattered. So I started doing my own research.
Through tons of trial and error, I figured out some exercises that sort of worked for me. I slowly worked my way back into tricking, but with the firm belief that I’d never be as good as I once was—and that I’d certainly never swing through or double cork again.
But then I met Neil and Han from TrickStrong, who were finishing their doctorates in physical therapy. My first interaction with Han was actually him kicking me with a webster at the Long Island tricker house, but we later became homies and training partners. He gave me a bunch of exercises that really helped—my range of motion got a lot better, and my ankle strength started improving too. Whenever he was in town, Neil also offered insight and advice that proved invaluable, especially for my dorsiflexion (the ability to pull my toes up toward my shin). Before I knew it, I was tricking just as well as I was before the injury—maybe even better.
And then one night, with no ankle tape necessary, I finally reclaimed my double cork. Neil was the first person to hug me. <3
Looking back on this whole experience, I’m filled with a bunch of different emotions. First of all, there’s regret that I didn’t take better care of my body before my injury—after all, I had been taping my ankle up because it felt weak. I just wasn’t doing any exercises to actually make it stronger. There’s also a lot of anger and frustration—how did that first doctor miss such a catastrophic injury on my X-ray? Why didn’t he understand the kind of damage that tricking can inflict?
Above all, however, there’s a sense of gratitude. Although it took me a while, I was lucky enough to find two people who were experts in physical therapy and tricking, people who knew exactly what my body needed to do, and how to actually make that happen. It pains me to think about all the trickers out there who jacked themselves up, never got the help they needed, and quietly faded into the pages of tricking history. Due to lack of opportunity or lack of knowledge, they had to give up on the thing they loved most.
But guess what? That doesn’t have to be you.
I’m here to tell you that this whole TrickStrong RX thing is the real fucking deal. Neil has spent months and months, working day and night, to give this gift to our community. For anyone who wants to trick at levels they never thought possible, RX is gonna get your body and mind in the shape of your life.
“But aren’t you on the TrickStrong team?” someone out there is probably saying. “Aren’t you sort of biased?”
You’re goddamn right I’m biased. Neil and Han gave me my tricking life back, and I’ve seen them do the same for other trickers too. Why would I not support and believe in their work? Besides, if you’ve read any of my other writing on the Invincible blog, I hope you know that I wouldn’t bullshit you.
“I mean I guess I’d sign up, but it costs money,” this same person is saying. “Why should I pay for stuff I can just find online?”
But can you? Can you find exercises delivered by experts and tailored specifically for the tricking athlete? Unfortunately, I don’t think that exists outside of RX. And I know we’re all on a budget, but think of this as an investment. Would you rather pay a little money for prehab and rehab, or a TON of money when you bust your ass and need serious medical attention? This is just smart money management, my guy.
Look, I intend to keep tricking for many years, basically until my lungs collapse or my bones turn to dust. And that is what TrickStrong RX will allow me to do. Tricking stronger means tricking longer—it’s about treating your athletic career like a marathon, not a sprint. I only wish I had realized that sooner, and started taking better care of my body from day one.
So don’t make the same mistake I did. Give your body the wisdom it needs to stay healthy, and give this RX thing a shot. If you think it sucks, call me out at the next gathering and you can roast me in a battle. Or even better, just message me or Neil, and tell us how we can make the improvements and adjustments you need.
So yeah, I’m pretty psyched about this—I know RX is gonna do a lot of good for a lot of trickers out there. The only question is, will you be one of them?
Jeremy Price is a longtime martial artist and tricker repping Team TrickStrong and the MuggleSlayers. He also writes about tricking, stunts, and heavy music for outlets like VICE, Maxim, and Alternative Press. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter.