Coming back from surgery – GB diver Ross Haslam's rehab journey

Coming back from surgery – GB diver Ross Haslam's rehab journey

With the Tokyo Olympics postponed until 2021, Team GB diver Ross Haslam has made the difficult decision to undergo surgery on a problematic, long-term shoulder injury. He delves into getting injured, making the tough decision to 'go under the knife' and the aftermath of rehab.


Coming back from surgery – GB diver Ross Haslam's rehab journey

After competing in pain for two years, GB diver Ross Haslam had a difficult, life-changing call to make. “For me, the surgery was my final option,” Ross explains, “I had exhausted every other option and method of recovery, and my diving was suffering because of it.” 

Unbeknown to the 22-year old from Sheffield, a routine training camp in October 2018 would be the start of his shoulder injury troubles: “During the camp, we had been doing a few different, and more complex exercises and I thought the pain I was feeling was just a normal niggle that would go away after a couple of days. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and looking back...this was the first domino in the long process of injuring my shoulder.”

As Haslam continued to train and compete at an international level, the shoulder continued to worsen. He continues:

“In 2019 I went on to have one of the busiest competition years of my life, competing at two National events and six International competitions. As the year progressed, despite seeing my physio on a weekly basis and following various rehab programmes meticulously, I struggled to stay on top of the pain in my shoulder."

"My range of movement started to drastically decrease and consequently, the quality of my diving seemed to decline out of my control.”

Despite the injury impacting the quality of his diving, with an Olympic Games (at the time) less than 12 months away, Haslam found it hard to address the seriousness of the shoulder problem and continued training and competing.

“At the start of the 2019/20 season my team and I decided I should have an injection on the shoulder”, said Haslam.” We thought it was going to be an Olympic year, so I felt I didn’t have any other option. Initially, it reduced the inflammation in my shoulder and allowed me to progress on with my rehab. Although the pain never completely subsided, I was able to train fully again, and things were looking promising. Unfortunately, this was short-lived, and a week or so before competing at the National Championships the pain started to increase again.” 


Following the National Championships was a FINA event in Germany, but just as the competitive season was getting into full swing, Haslam (along with the rest of the sporting world), found their season coming to an abrupt halt. With Haslam luckily already back on home soil, the UK went into lockdown. Impacting the routine of not just athletes, but seeing the whole country enter unchartered territory. 

At first, Haslam and his team thought the lockdown would be a good opportunity to finally have a long period of rest and to focus completely on the rehabilitation of his shoulder. But as Haslam explains, very little changed over these three months:

“We thought a solid rest period without the added load of diving would significantly help. But it didn’t. With the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 being announced, we started to look at what the options could be for my shoulder.

“As the UK started to relax lockdown restrictions, I began conversations with a consultant, and surgery was discussed. I was lucky enough to get an appointment for surgery, and I ended up getting multiple labral tears in the shoulder repaired. This was not the surgery that we initially expected as previously an MRI scan showed some inflammation on my rotator cuff tendons, but once it was done, I felt relieved and grateful I was able to get it repaired.” 


With Haslam now firmly on the road to recovery, he is facing one of the biggest challenges of his career; being able to get back to full fitness and competition level ahead of the Tokyo Olympics in less than a year. He knows it will be hard:

The postponement of the Olympics still seems very surreal for me. I know that I will be very limited in preparation compared to some of my competitors, however, I believe that if I can get the strength back in my shoulder and start diving again pain-free, I will be much better off for it.”

After his surgery in July, Haslam has been focused on his rehabilitation programme from day one:

“At the moment the main focus is on improving the range and gradually increasing strength. As the weeks go on, I will be allowed to progress this more quickly, but for the moment I am taking it steady and finding the balance to keep the improvement going without upsetting the shoulder too much. I need to focus on getting my shoulder back to normal, then I can dig my teeth into a good block of training to prepare my ‘list’ for competition and get ready for the season.”

As well as working closely with physios and his coach, Haslam has continued to use his NuroKor device to aid his rehabilitation:  “I have been using my NuroKor mitouch on the MC2 mode to help with the wound healing and inflammation. As I progress on with my rehab I have no doubt that I will be using both the PNS and NMS modes to help with recovery. I will also continue to use it for sore legs after strength and conditioning sessions."

"I can put my NuroKor on in my lunch break and get some great active recovery whilst still relaxing and shutting off mentally before the next session.”


With a clear goal of competing at the Olympic Games in 12 months, Haslam has never been more motivated to work hard and get back to performing without constant pain. He is passionate about life, whether that is singing, playing the guitar, or the TV & Film industry. But it is diving which drives his passion at the moment:

I perform best when I am happy and enjoying what I’m doing. Over the last year or so, this has been a real struggle for me. Even though I have been blessed to travel around the world and compete in some of the most amazing events, I have found it hard to enjoy this whilst dealing with the pain and frustration of not being able to dive as well as I feel I am capable of."

"Surgery was my final option, but now I have done it, I have the hope and belief that I will be ready for Tokyo and will do everything in my power to get back diving, stronger and better than before.” 

Ross Haslam is aiming to compete in the Individual 3m Springboard event at Tokyo Olympics in 2021. You can follow his journey on Instagram @rosshaslam.

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