Rip Curl Blog
Mick Fanning Tears His ACL in South Africa
The 3x World Champion is going to have to take a break from Searching and head straight into rehab!
Over the weekend 3x World Champion Mick Fanning injured himself on a Stab In The Dark trip in South Africa. At the time all he knew was that he’d blown his knee out – so he hopped on a plane and headed straight to the doctor’s office on the Gold Coast.
The news, unfortunately, wasn’t great. A torn ACL, surgery and 6-12 months recovery time. This means Mick will be leaving his partner in crime on The Search, Mason Ho, to his own devices for the next few months.
We gave Mick a quick call to check in – and true to Fanning form, he’s already talking about speeding up the recovery process to get in the water sooner, stronger.
What actually happened?
I was coming out of a tube and was going to do a layback cutback, drop-wallet carve sort of thing, and midway through the turn I just felt my back knee pop out. You can see in the footage where the thing just collapsed, instant pain, just my whole leg was in pain. But once I got to the beach the pain had already subsided, which made me think… okay, that’s bad. So I went home, showered up, rang all my favourite doctor friends and booked a flight home.
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Why is it bad if the pain subsides quickly?
Well when you snap a ligament you snap all the nerve endings. So there is nothing saying, okay, we are sore!
And you were on a trip with STAB?
Yup, I was on a Stab In The Dark Trip. I was only into my third surf, and everything was feeling really good and I was all psyched. The following day we were about to head down to JBay, and then this happened! I was healthy, I was ready… it was just one of those things.
What sort of rehab does an injury like this require?
It was my ACL so I’m not exactly sure, I only just got scans yesterday and I see the surgeon tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get surgery in the next week or so. Then from talking to doctors I think I’ll be in a brace from 1-2 weeks, a full locked-out brace, then hopefully off crutches after that. Then the rehab starts. They say that can take anywhere from 6-12 months.
That’s a pretty wide range...
Yeah it all just depends on how good your surgeon is... so no pressure! Just kidding, I’m in good hands so I’m not stressed.
You’ve been known to come back from injury with a bit of a vengeance. You’re not on Tour now so there’s not the same sort of pressure – but will you have a similar approach to the recovery process?
For the timeline, if I can get back in six months that would be great. That would put me in the water in January, February, which is the start of our cyclone season up here on the Gold Coast. I’d like to be back for that.
But look, I was sort of starting to go down that path anyways. I’ve been pretty lazy for the past year or so – I was doing a little bit of stuff here and there, but nothing crazy – and then I saw Dr Tim Brown in the USA when I was there in July. He got me fired up to get the body moving and get the body flowing, and the body was actually feeling really good. It was just a bit of a mishap, and I am sort of excited to be going down that path again of getting the body flowing and keeping the age barrier at a minimum.
I’ve still got big plans of Searching and now I’m even more fired up to get back to JBay! I was only an hour away!
Now you’ve got a bit of time up your sleeve to dream up Search trips… anything you’re really going to be looking forward to once you’ve recovered?
There are some places that I am going to start investigating. I’ve got a few different ones that I’ve been talking to people about. And yeah, I guess this sort of gives me more time to plan them out properly and get everything ready to go.
I also just got that new truck from Mercedes and I want to get that all decked out and get camping on the go for summer!
Are there any key lifestyle changes that you make for period of rehab? Any key elements that really aid rehab?
Look, food and all of your intake is crucial I think in speeding up the heeling. Unfortunately I’ll have to keep the Balter to a very minimal intake! But that’s all good, I’m happy to have a break from it all and go back into Cyborg mode!
The goal is to get my bikini body ready for summer. I’ve got four months.
Get well soon Mick! We’ll miss you on The Search...