Injuries are a part of sports life, unfortunately, but many manage to avoid them. They can be more prominent, or smaller, but they affect everyone who tries to prove themselves by doing physical work. Our KRISTERS ALEKSEICIKS is also going through a challenging phase in which he has to rehabilitate a stress fracture of the metatarsal bone he suffered twice. What is the daily life of a footballer when it is not possible to play this sport actively? We asked him about it.
Kristers Alekseiciks joined the Valmiera FC team in the summer of 2021. Kuldiga-born kid honed his football skills at FK Ventspils Academy. The 23-year-old player has been able to prove his ability in several positions in his career, he grew up as a striker, but now he has proven himself as a universal player who can work in both the midfielder and defender positions. He spent the 2022 season on loan in the FK Tukums 2000/Telms team but returned to our club after the end of the season. Kristers has not had a successful year as the season ended before it even started.
How did the injury occur?
I got injured for the first time in training. A pretty hard morning workout, but there was no sign of a possible injury. Physically, I felt good, I didn’t feel any discomfort, but then in the last exercise, while working with the medicine ball, making a sudden change of direction, I heard a sound in my foot. I did the exercise to the end, but I realized that something was not right. After less than a minute, my leg started to hurt a lot, it hurt so much that I couldn’t put it on the ground. It happened that it was a very difficult, emotional moment because I got hurt one day before going to the team’s training camp in Turkey.
How was your initial recovery process?
Initially, I spent a lot of time at home, lying on the couch. I played video games and watched TV series. I was not allowed to do anything because a cast was applied. A month passed, it was removed and I was allowed to start walking, a little later I was also allowed to go to swimming lessons. It must be said that swimming is one of the best stages of rehabilitation, it makes it possible to train endurance and use all muscle groups, without putting a load on the injured foot. Later, I started working out on a bicycle, jogging at a slow pace, and doing exercises on the mat. After the end of this process, I could start putting weight on the injured leg. Next came the green light from the team’s physiotherapist that I could do the last phase of rehabilitation – work with the team’s physical conditioning coach Ivo Lakucs. Two weeks where you have to do everything to prepare for football. After that, work with the team follows.
You were ready to return to the pitch, but the joy was short-lived – you got the same injury again, how did it happen?
Unfortunately, my three months of hard work went down the drain. I felt good, I was physically ready and I proved it in training as well. I was in the game application for the match against the Super Nova team, I felt happy, and I thought that I would finally be able to play. There was also a chance to go on the pitch, but a sudden red card made the coach’s decision to change formation the team rearranged itself and my chance was gone. I reconciled myself, I believed that I would definitely go on the pitch in the next game, but nothing. Training immediately followed, in which I landed on my leg after a jump and it was clear – another fracture. I immediately told the medical staff of the team that an operation should be performed, which was not performed the first time. There were no emotions at all, I realized that there is no need to waste time and energy on things that I cannot influence. I had to start thinking about it so that I could start this rehabilitation process as soon as possible and fully return to the game.
How has the recovery process changed the second time?
I changed some things. After the operation, I went straight to the countryside to my grandmother, it is a sacred place for me. There I spent time in nature, reading books, meditating, and eating healthy food. I also started exercising on the mat three days after the surgery. I stayed in the countryside until the cast was removed, then I returned to Valmiera and started doing the same things I did the first time.
It must have been a tough phase mentally, how did you deal with that aspect?
My routine is very important to me, I get up every morning, make my bed, clean my body, drink a glass of warm lemon water, make tea, meditate, make notes in my notebook, and read some edifying books. Then breakfast follows, after which I pack my bag and go to training. When I get home, I wash the training clothes so that it is fresh for the next day, then I go back to taking notes and reading. Before sleep, I have about three hours in which I indulge in my hobbies – I relax, play PlayStation, and watch TV. My regime is arranged in such a way that I can relax both physically and mentally. Of course, I also call my family, who definitely help me, their support always motivates me. While playing video games, I chat with friends and watch a football game. I live from day to day, it is the primary thing to recover and prepare for the future.
How close are you to being able to work with the team again? It’s definitely hard to watch everyone fight from the sidelines without being able to help.
Yes, it is difficult to follow from the outside. Especially games, big games, such as the Europen competitions – sitting in the stands, my legs were shaking from how much I wanted to be on the pitch, to help the team. Even now, when I start training individually, I watch with one eye how the guys are training and I think to myself how much I want to return sooner, to be with the team.
You have also become active in social networks, your followers could watch your 75-day challenge, how did you decide to start something like that?
In general, I had taken a three-year break from social networks, and it made me turn away from everything that is happening in the world, but I decided that this was the right moment to come back, to show myself. That’s why I decided that during rehabilitation I could challenge myself, and do two training sessions every day, one of which had to be in the fresh air. I also consumed four liters of water a day, and read at least 10 pages of a book. I tried to maintain this regime for 75 days in a row. This decision also had a purpose, I wanted to feel that this year I would have accomplished something significant, and I would have gained satisfaction, even though I have not been able to play football this year. It was also important to show people how the rehabilitation process works in the hope that it might inspire someone to work towards becoming the best version of themselves. All this was not easy, but I got to know my body better, and I learned what it is capable of. The challenge is over, but I’m still developing myself.
What has been the most difficult part of the rehabilitation process?
The biggest challenge was being able to accept the fact that you won’t be playing for a long time. I was aware that it would be a long time, and the training would be hard, but the obstacles to return had to be overcome. I know that I will be able to be proud of myself and that I will have overcome such a phase of my life. I will definitely be stronger than before. I don’t know yet when I will be able to return to the field, now I will have training with the physical fitness coach, which could last one or two weeks, and then I will start training with the team again. After that? After that, it will be up to me to prove to the coaches that I am ready to play.