Warriors Wire: Durant's Timetable for Return Depends on the Grade of Calf Strain
With 2:05 left in the third quarter of Game 5 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets, Kevin Durant limped off the court. The two-time Finals MVP did not return to the game; he was ruled out with what is being called a right calf strain.
During the game coverage, TNT’s Allie LaForce reported that Kevin Durant would go under an MRI later that week. The next day Tim Kawakami of The Athletic, reported Durant would be out for Game 6 against the Rockets:
He’s not going to play Game 6. We can pretend and just say he’s doubtful. But he’s not playing Game 6.
The Warriors, without Durant, would take care of the Rockets in Game 6 and advance to the Western Conference Finals against the Portland Trail Blazers. Before Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, ESPN reported Durant would be out for Game 1 against the Blazers.
Ramona Shelburne, also of ESPN, reported he was unlikely to play in Game 2 either, with Yahoo’s Chris Haynes confirming the report via tweet:
Prior to last night’s game, Warriors PR posted a press release to Twitter explaining that both Durant and DeMarcus Cousins (quad tear) were evaluated on Thursday and ruled out pending further evaluation in one week’s time, which means both players will miss Games 3 and 4, Saturday (May 18) and Monday (May 21), respectively.
The Warriors cruised to a 116-94 Game 1 victory against the Blazers, as The Splash Brothers dropped in 62 points combined, and they coasted in Game 2, but eked out a three-point win behind Stephen Curry’s 37 points. Although there is no need at this time for Durant to rush back before he is ready to return, the question on everyone’s mind concerns when he will be back on the court.
Enter expert Jessica Schatz, a Pilates instructor who helped the Indiana Pacers’ Wesley Matthews recover from his Achilles injury. Although Schatz is not working with Durant on his calf strain, she spoke with Warriors Wire about the nature of such injuries.
Warriors Wire: Kevin Durant reportedly has a strained right calf injury. In your expert opinion, typically, how long does it take to recover from that type of injury?
It all depends on the level of injury. A strain is a tear, or micro-tear, in the muscle fibers. Depending on the grade of the tear (i.e., Grade I, II, or III), it could be anywhere from three days to six weeks, generally speaking. If it is very severe and requires surgery, the rehab process may take longer.
To be clear, based on the fact the Warriors are being extremely vague about Durant’s injury, this is all speculative. They have not revealed how severe his injury is, only that an MRI has confirmed it is indeed a calf strain. They have also said he is still experiencing pain, which means he is not going to play yet — nor should he. Since he has suffered a strained calf previously in his career, I am sure they will be extremely cautious in his return.
Warriors Wire: If you were the one working with him to get him back on the court this season, what regimen would you put Kevin through to achieve that goal?
I would evaluate his capabilities based on his pain tolerance. If he has any pain whatsoever, he should not get back on the court until it is gone. After the first couple of days of ice and compression to reduce any swelling, I would start with simple and specific calf stretches. For example, I might have him sit in a chair with his knees bent and feet flat, then have him extend his affected leg to straight and flex his foot.
Also, I may have him sit on the floor with his strained leg straight, and a towel looped around the ball of his foot, then have him pull the towel towards himself, bringing his toes back, and holding this stretch for 15-30 seconds — repeating this a few times. We would progress from there. Once he’s pain-free, we could introduce strengthening exercises such as standing upright with feet flat — possibly holding onto a counter or chair for balance — and slowly rising up onto the balls of his feet, and slowly lowering back down.
If there is no pain, we would repeat this several times, increasing the range of motion to retrain the muscle. The progression would eventually be doing this same exercise with only one leg at a time and/or without holding onto a counter or chair. If that went well, I would start working with him on the Pilates Reformer to strengthen and stretch his calf, as the Reformer utilizes full-body integration (FBI), which is required of him on the court.
Warriors Wire: What would be the daily routine you would have him stick to while he is at home recovering?
If there is still swelling, I would have him ice his calf for 10-15 minutes every few hours. Depending on his pain level, I would slowly introduce the stretching exercises I mentioned earlier. Pain is the gauge. I would have him avoid anything that causes pain, as that could further strain his muscle.
Warriors Wire: How should the Warriors possibly handle him resuming on-court activities once he is able to return from the injury?
As I am sure they will most certainly do, once he is completely pain-free, make sure he has a solid warm-up before any practice or game. Since he has had this injury before, he should always wear a compression sleeve on his calf. Start him with limited amounts of time on the court and progress from there. Between these short periods of time, he should stretch, stay warm and keep the blood flowing. Always reintroduce ice if there are swelling or pain flare-ups.
Schatz’s method is rooted in Pilates and draws upon elements of Yoga, biomechanics, meditation, psychotherapy, physiology, kinesiology, strength and conditioning exercises, nutrition and other modalities to address the whole person — mind, body, spirit. She also focuses on the physical core with an intuitive sense of the inner core of each person.
Game 3 between the Warriors and the Blazers will take place Saturday, May 18, at Moda Center in Portland. Tipoff is 6 p.m. PT on ESPN.