Mike Day's Recovery

Justin Kosman/Red Bull Photofiles

Mike Day at the Kearney Track in San Diego, Calif.

After years of intense back pain (at points keeping him from riding), Mike "365" Day (Team USA 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist) eventually went in and got an MRI. The results: Day learned that he has a herniated, bulged disc. Because spinal injuries require major surgery, Day evaluated alternate routes of therapy, working with the therapists at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. religiously for a few months before he felt healthy enough to ride again.

When Day finally returned to riding, it did not last long. According to Day, his first time back on the bike after months of rest and therapy was the last straw. Day couldn't continue racing without having the necessary surgery. Meeting with the specialists who sponsor the Team USA Olympic BMX Team at the DISC Sport and Spine Center in Marina del Ray, Day decided to go through with it. When all was said and done, he would have surgery replacing the disc between the L4 and L5 vertebrae replaced with an artificial disc. This is the preferred method over fusion to keep full range of motion, and was recommended to him as a young athlete by Dr. Bray. After finding out that the surgery typically reduces back pain by "90 to 95%," Day was all for it.

At the completion of his surgery, Dr. Bray was as enthusiastic as anyone, saying that the surgery went as smooth as it possibly could, considering the intense procedure that it is. Speaking with Day, it was obvious that Dr. Bray's enthusiasm had had an effect and got him psyched to recover. Within a few hours of surgery, Day was able to walk. And after staying a night in the hospital, he was released and able to walk out the door.

The pain is not over yet though. Day still has ten days of doing nothing (when I called he had just watched Dazed and Confused and his laptop had died on him the day prior.) After ten days, Day will go back in for a checkup with Dr. Bray, and if all goes as planned, he will be able to spin his legs a bit on a stationary bike. Another four weeks after that, he will find the true status of his recovery period and know when he may be back out on his BMX once again.

From all of us here at ESPN, we wish you a speedy recovery Mike!

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