Gordon Hayward Takes Significant Step in Ankle Rehab

WALTHAM, Mass. – Gordon Hayward has moved off of the anti-gravity treadmill and is back to jogging under his own power.

Hayward, through the Players’ Tribune, released a 29-second video Monday morning of him jogging up and down the court inside the Celtics’ practice facility. Brad Stevens said that the video was filmed “the other morning,” indicating that Hayward has been cleared to jog for at least a couple of days now, and that Hayward is now permitted to jog once every three days.

In the video, Hayward can be seen jogging up the length of the court and back at a slow pace, with four cones placed along his path. A beep can be heard sounding off as he reached each cone, and Hayward could also be heard at the end of the first trek saying, “That’s super slow.”

Prior to Monday morning’s practice, Brad Stevens explained that the jogging speed was about 20 percent of a sprint, and that the beeping sounds were specifically timed out to the pace at which Hayward was instructed to jog; the forward was supposed to arrive at each new cone as he each beep sounded off.

“It’s hard to go that slow,” Stevens joked.

True, but fact that Hayward is now jogging under his own power is no laughing matter. This is a significant step in his rehabilitation. As Stevens commented, “I think every day where he can accomplish something new is a big deal.”

This was certainly “new” for Hayward. He had previously been restricted to jogging only on the Alter-G treadmill, which uses anti-gravity technology to allow a player to run at only a percentage of his body weight. The percentages on which Hayward has ran has increased over time, culminating with his clearance to run at 100 percent of his body weight on the practice court.

The next steps for Hayward’s rehab will be to increase the speed of his jog, and eventually move on to being able to move laterally, and to be able to jump. According to Stevens, those markers and a return to true basketball activities remains “a long, long way away.”

Still, Hayward’s spirits are high, according to teammate Jaylen Brown. Brown had yet to see the video clip before running into Hayward Monday morning at the practice facility.

“I saw him today when he came in for treatment and I was like, ‘No brace?’” Brown recalled, pointing out that Hayward was not wearing a brace on his left ankle. “And he looked at me (with a smile and nod) and was like, ‘Yeah, something like (that).’”

Brown, who recently missed six games with a concussion, said that Hayward must be feeling anxiety as he inches closer and closer to being able to return to playing the game that he loves.

“Just me being out for two weeks when I had a concussion for a little bit, I was itching,” Brown explained. “Like I just felt I had withdrawals from the basketball court. So not being able to play the whole year, I’m sure he’s experiencing that to a whole other level.”

While Hayward is undoubtedly feeling the itch to return to full basketball activity, he must also be feeling a great sense of accomplishment after his latest goal was met. It had been 24 weeks since he last jogged under his own power on a basketball court, but that streak has been put to an end.

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