Dr. Sharif Tabbah aka Dr. Reef was gracious enough to spend some time with us as he discussed former New Orleans Saints linebacker Kwon Alexander’s rehab, crazy workouts with Alvin Kamara, and his favorite athlete he’s worked with.
CSC: A lot of people in this area are focused on the work you’re doing with Kwon Alexander and Alvin Kamara, but let’s pull it back a bit and give us a little insight into what goes into curating a rehabilitation program for players when they come to you looking to get healthy?
Dr. Reef: The first thing we do is start with a full body assessment, they let me know what specific ailment they are dealing with so we can hone in on that area, but we also make sure we look at the body as a whole. We look at range of motion, strength, flexibility to see what kind of imbalances jump out that the athlete may not be aware of. It could be contributing to their issue or maybe not, but we like to get a good map of what we’re seeing and from there work on how we can improve the athlete dealing with their pain and then look to restore strength and function to improve performance as a whole. It’s really a multi-phase process.
CSC: Speaking of improving, Saints fans have their eyes closely following Kwon Alexander’s rehab this offseason as he and Demario Davis formed a dynamic duo at the linebacker position last season. If healthy, fans have been clamoring about a possible reunion with the Saints. Speaking on Kwon specifically, are you pleased with his progress so far and what is his next step in recovery?
Dr. Reef: Kwon has been unbelievable in terms of work ethic, diligence, and attitude on a daily basis and honestly he may be the fastest recovery of an achilles that I’ve ever worked with. It’s been incredible just day day to day to watch how much faster and stronger and more dynamic he’s getting. He’s under 5 months since surgery and he’s already doing modified position drills that’s getting him back into specific movements and using those to clean up mechanics. Each new step and new challenge we present him with, he just seems to overcome it and that’s just incredible.
First day back on breaks with @kwon under 5 months post Achilles Repair and we’re already out here jumping for balls! GREAT first day back on it!— Dr Reef (@doctor_reef) May 21, 2021
Check my IG for more and the breakdown of how we got here ✊ #athletixrehab @NFL @thecheckdown @brgridiron @ESPNNFL pic.twitter.com/orm0Aytw2k
Stackin with @kwon !— Dr Reef (@doctor_reef) May 25, 2021
Triple extension on the jammers, working on firing out of the hips and simulating striking. We’re looking for triple extension (hips, knees, ankles) and a strong neutral spine.#ComeBackKwon @NFL @brgridiron #nfloffseason #athletixrehab #comebackseason pic.twitter.com/RBjzx8Bvok
CSC: That’s amazing you say that because the old adage use to be that Achilles injuries for a football player use to be a death sentence especially when talking about the running back and linebacker position specifically. Talk about with the progression of medicine and technology how that’s been able to help athletes get healthier quicker and back to full strength.
Dr. Reef: Techniques are always changing and improving in the surgery is performed and from the rehab side it’s always important that early on you look to protect the tissue while it’s healing and develop function and strength at a rapid but appropriate pace. What we specialize in is truly blending rehab with sports performance. You can have the same athlete with the same injury and because of different rehab protocols, you end up with different results in the end. A lot of what we do on the rehab side is tied to the performance side because they kind of are one in the same.
CSC: Speaking of great performance, we all look at the work you do with Alvin Kamara and see the crazy videos you guys put out with the core training, balance, and strength. Anything behind the scenes you can give us with what you two have cooking up in the lab this offseason?
Dr. Reef: We’re always grinding and I love working with Alvin. He’s one of my favorite clients to work with because he’s always bringing the same positive energy and he’s always ready to know what’s next. No matter how crazy the things I cook up, he’s always ready to manage it and ask what’s the next progression. It’s always interesting to find new ways to challenge him and so this offseason we always look to restore where we left off and that was easier this time because he was healthier after the season as opposed to last year when he was hurt. Alvin’s always leveling up and looking for ways to level up and continuing to look for new ways to challenge himself.
Leveling up with my guy @A_kamara6 with these stability army crawls These are insanely difficult!— Dr Reef (@doctor_reef) April 21, 2021
Where you at @KingHenry_2 ?! Time to level up! #YourMove #ItsAllLove
.@NFL #athletixrehab @thecheckdown @ESPNNFL @brgridiron @BleacherReport pic.twitter.com/Jwh7TsVfjI
CSC: All Saints fans truly appreciate the work you’ve done with Alvin as his production has shown by the work he’s put in from you. Now it’s time to put you on the hot seat. You worked with a whole bunch of athletes across multiple sports on a close, hands on basis. Is there one particular athlete that has stood out to you over this time, whether that be because of the recovery process or what they were willing to do in order to get back on the field?
Dr. Reef: I’d have to say I can’t say a specific athlete, but I will say working with NFL athletes is special because of the work ethic and diligence is really unmatched. I can name hundreds of NFL athletes that have all surprised me with their ability to recover quickly or that same day in and day out grind attitude they bring to the football field. I joke with guys I work with a tell me, ok now go run down the field and bash your head into the goal posts and run back. They tell me cool, how many sets? The trust is there because they know the outcome is going to be there. To me that fills me with pride and respect knowing that we’ve built that relationship that what we do here is going to work out.
Dr. Sahrif Tabbah is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and the founder of Athletix Rehab and Recovery in South Florida. He has worked with multiple New Orleans Saints players like Alvin Kamara, Cam Jordan, and Mark Ingram just to name a few.