Danny MacAskill: The Struggle To Imaginate
“He came to me and said: ‘I can’t ride the way I want. What I want to accomplish, I can’t do it – my body can’t do it. I don’t have power. I can’t push off, I can’t gain balance and I keep falling,’” Dr. Bray added.
After receiving the diagnosis from Dr. Bray, he knew something would have to be done.
“I was kind of given a choice,” MacAskill admitted. “I tried various things like steroid injections in my back and physical therapy. He [Dr. Bray] kind of told me it could clear up by itself over a certain amount of time, over like 10 months, with lots of physical therapy and lots of work – or they could go in and do the surgery, which had a more guaranteed success rate, you know.”
MacAskill elected to have it done, getting microsurgery on his back, at which point Dr. Bray shaved off the piece of disc that was ruptured and then removed the bone spur, enlarging the pathway for his nerves. He also scoped and cleaned up his knee. The time it takes for a normal patient to feel better is typically six weeks, and three months later they’re fine. But those numbers aren’t the same for someone like MacAskill, who pushes their body to the limit. Their recovery process can be 12 to 14 months.
His hope was to be able to hop back on his bike as quickly as possible, he even did a demo ride for Red Bull just three or four weeks after the surgery and while his back felt better, there was still pain – still a ways to go in the recovery process. Plenty of days were spent in the gym, before he could get back on the bike and MacAskill received several shots to help with the pain and inflammation along the way.
There were limitations that Dr. Bray gave MacAskill on what he could do in the beginning.
“He said he couldn’t work as hard as he wanted if he can’t do specific tricks, but we told him that we didn’t want him to reinjure it and he agreed,” Dr. Bray said. “So we kept limits on him, which no athlete likes.”
MacAskill is still recovering as he aims to get his body back to 100-percent. It’s taken plenty of time not only in the gym but riding his bike in the simplest of fashion. He started riding to just reacquaint his body with the motions as well as the pressure and impact it put on his body.
“It’s been a very long process and I’m still filling in that process now,” he claims. “I still have a ways to get back to full percent, but I can ride day after day.”
His first real venture back on the bike was when he got the opportunity to ride the Olympic torch through Glasgow in preparation for last year’s summer games in London. The ride was only a few miles, but it was introspective. It’s been a gradual process and with each day MacAskill pushes himself a little further on his bike – and it has paid off. Now he’ back to doing what he loves but there are prerequisites that need to be done from time to time to ensure his well-being.
“I just kind of have to manage my body – make sure I’m stretching and make sure I’m doing extra training and riding,” said MacAskill. “I’m happy I did the surgery but it’s definitely been a long road to recovery and several operations but I’m pleased I’ve done it.”
Well over a year later, MacAskill is nearly back to where he was before the flare up, with just a small amount of recovery time remaining. His Red Bull project is now completed and even opens explaining his back issues and the experience he had with DISC to be able to get back to pushing his body to the limits. As the video progresses, it’s nearly impossible to notice that just months before, he was sidelined with perhaps the worst injury of his career. Yet the tricks he pulls off throughout are among his best.
And he’s quite happy with how Imaginate has turned out.
“I’m definitely happy with the results,” MacAskill laughed. “It’s been quite nice to have a documentary out there as well, to show about the process. It was really fun for me to kind of get into the space and to work on such a big project and come out with all these ideas and stuff.
Be sure to check out the latest Imaginate clip, as well as the rest of MacAskill’s videos here.
Photo Credit; Getty