It's Not Over Until You Quit
On Feb. 7, 2016, Stephen Moore was like many Austinites: fun loving and fitness minded. He balanced work, his workouts, and his social life.
On Feb. 8, 2016, his world changed. A drunk driver ran a red light and hit Moore while he was riding his motorcycle. As a result of the accident, Moore, a powerlifter and personal trainer, lost his right leg.
“This is his livelihood, working with his legs,” Jorge Diaz Jr., Moore’s friend, explained. “But he saw it as a challenge to overcome.”
In the six months since the accident, Moore has done hours of physical therapy, therapeutic massage, and walking, squatting, and moving to develop his new motor patterns.
Moore found support from his friends at Louisiana Tech University, where he was on the powerlifting team, and Hyde Park Gym, where he works out and trains clients here in Austin. Hyde Park Gym turned its annual “Squat by Southwest” squat competition into a fundraiser for Moore’s expenses.
When he heard of the accident, Diaz immediately drove to Austin and was one of a few who took turns helping care for Moore when he was released from the hospital. “Stephen has this amazing capacity for hope. He never doubted God.”
How do you move past a catastrophic incident like this? Moore explains that it is a combination of mental and tactical tips to keep moving forward.
“The battle is in your mind. It all starts with your attitude. I have tried to live by that even before the accident: not being a victim to your circumstance. You have a choice: you can make excuses to not pursue your dreams or you can go for it.”
“That's the number one thing. The physical stuff comes easier once you put your mind to whatever you want.”
HOW TO GET BACK IN THE GYM POST INJURY
Moore has some specific suggestions about how to get back into the gym post injury.
First, he advises, “Have patience! Allow yourself to adapt at the pace that your injury requires. See any progress as progress.”
Next, select exercises that accommodate your new challenges. Moore started with front squats because balancing made it easier than with back squats. He also recommends trying the leg press to help with building and maintaining strength, since it takes stability and balance out of the equation.
“I already knew what I was doing in the gym but I had to be creative and find adaptations. Squats, for example: I just can't walk back into the gym and barbell back squat just yet.”
Moore also recommends progressing from the leg press to Bulgarian split squats, which allows for unilateral work and builds strength and balance.
What would he do differently if he had to rehab again? “Work more on flexibility! My right knee is rarely in full flexion and my left side has had to bear more weight.”
Moore reminds me that he is always a work in progress. He has big future plans, including continuing competitive powerlifting.
Maybe the Paralympic Games, he says, and learning racquetball.
“Why not? Something like this makes me want to challenge the impossible.” He explained. He paused, and corrected himself. “The improbable. I want to push the limits.”