Professor Mackay has worked on elite athletes in almost every sport, with his work with the Scottish Institute of Sport bringing him into contact with Olympians and Commonwealth Games athletes on a regular basis.
Possibly the most remarkable example of Professor Mackay’s work – and specifically of his use of the Internal Brace – is the case of John Jackson, a British bobsleigh pilot who completely tore his Achilles tendon while jumping a hurdle in training in August 2013. The 36-year-old was told that a conventional operation would mean that he would still be lame by the time of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi in February.
Instead, he did some research and came across Mackay’s pioneering technique. With nothing to lose, he took the plunge and, instead of being out for a year and in plaster for months, Jackson was doing light exercise within weeks and was back to full sprinting within five months, joining up with the British team in plenty of time to take his place at Sochi.
As Dr Rod Jaques of the English Institute of Sport said: “I’ve been working in the field for 23 years and have never seen improvements like this. I’m astounded – the milestones he’s hit so rapidly are phenomenal.”
Had Jackson not been able to return to the team, they would never have competed at Sochi. As Stuart Benson, another member of the Team GB bobsleigh, said: “Jacko is irreplaceable, so when he did his Achilles in training we all thought ‘this might be it’. And not only would it have been it for him, but for all of us because there are other decent drivers but no-one that comes close to Jacko. When he ran for the first time, which was in a training session, it was very emotional: it was a real breakthrough for us all. It made us realise that if he can come back from that, then we can really give this a good go. It was the point at which we all thought, ‘maybe this is just all meant to be’.”
The video below shows Jackson’s story and his return to full sprinting six months after damaging his Achilles tendon. If he had undergone conventional surgery he would still have been in plaster.