Sunday, July 27, 2008

Week 9 - ACL Surgery Recovery

This past thrusday marked the 9th week after ACL surgery on my right leg. I'm still going to physio 2 times a week plus doing the assigned exercises daily at home or at the gym. My sessions are about 2 hours long. This week i did a spin class for the first time since my surgery. There was a little discomfort around my patella but overall it wasnt too bad.

I had started doing spin classes prior to the surgery to help keep my legs strong. I found it helped. Normally i just like doing some moutain biking but when the weather is not so great, a spin class can work your legs pretty good.

Here's a little bit of news on ACL surgeries using Cadaver tissue. It was posted on the Washington Post's Web site about a week or two ago:

"ACL Reconstruction With Cadaver Tissue Risky in Younger Patients

Using replacement ligaments from cadavers for reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) may have a failure rate as high as 24 percent in active patients under the age of 40.
The finding, from researchers at the Mississippi Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center, which were to be presented Thursday at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine annual meeting, in Orlando, Fla., raises the question as to whether other alternatives would be better for younger ACL patients.

An estimated 800,000 ACL tears occur each year in the United States......"

Here's the link if you'd like to read the full article:

Bottom line is, it looks like they need to do more research.

Anyway, on to this week at physio. I was able to do a few new exercises in addition to everything else i've been doing to date. The first was with bungee cords. The cords are attached to a wall and the other ends are strapped around my waist. There are two pilons set out infront of me making a "V" shape. Step one - walk (no running yet) out to the first pilon. The resistance of the bungee cords makes it mildly difficult. I can add more cords to make it harder. Step two - side shuffle to the other pilon. Step three - walk backwards to the starting position. Repeat 10 times then redo starting at the opposite pilon.

The next new exercise was trampolin jumping. With this one, I'm not allowed to do with my full weight so my theropist has me leaning over a railing while doing the jumps to take some of the weight off my knees. its basically just forward/backwards jumping on both legs and then side to side jumping.

My new routine in the Swimex pool consists of Squat jumps. see the little picture below. Remeber im doing this in about 5 feet of water, not outside of the pool yet. Doing it in the pool takes pressure off the knees. 3 sets of 10.

The other water exercises is a full lunge. I actually have "water weights" which look like dumbells but float. It adds resistance when your bending into the squat or lunge as you basically have to push the floating dumbells down. Again, 3 sets of 10.

Previously I was doing backwards running against the current in the Swimex pool. Now i've graduated to forward running. I do about 8-10 minutes of this. The pool is not that back, so with the current going against me, i can do about 12-15 steps before i reach the end of the pool.

So, I've been told that i can start running (outside of the pool) in the 10-12 week range. Im just one week away. In addition to these new exercises, I 've started some fast pace walking on the treadmill with an incline to help get me ready for running. Only 10-15 minuites at this point.

The running thing is big for me. Most of my favorite sports involve running. When i originally torn my ACL (which was 2 years ago next month), i couldnt play any sports but i wanted to keep up my cardio and so i took up jogging. The lack of side to side movement made it easier for my knee to handle at the time. I didnt have any pain so i kept at it. I ran about 4 days a week - no too much maybe 3 to 5 km and then to satisfy my competitive edge, i did a few 5 km races.

There is a 5km run at the Toronto Zoo on October 18th and Im hoping i can run in it. I don't know if i'll be able to break my personal 5km record of 19:27 (which i did with a torn ACL) but i'll be happy to be able to finish it with no discomfort. The way I'm progressing, i don't see why that wouldn't be possible. Thats still about 10-11 weeks away.

Anyway, thats it for this week. Thanks for reading my ACL surgery recovery blog. To anyone out there reading this who are about to go through the surgery, good luck. If you have any questions, just leave me a comment and make sure to check back later for my response.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Week 7 & 8 - ACL Surgery Recovery

Recovering from ACL surgery seems to be different for everyone judging by my observations and by my own experience since I've had both knees fixed. On my first week of physiotheropy i was able to ride the excerise bike with no problems. Recently, i was observing another patient at the physio clinic who also had her ACL repaired over 8 weeks ago and she was still having difficulty peddling. She had to raise her hip off the seat every time her repaired leg was at the top of the peddling cycle. One thing to keep in mind when you're reading my blog that if you're about to go through with the ACL surgery, your progression may be a bit longer than what i'm experiencing and reporting.

Now, since my last post i've had a routine follow up appointment with my surgeron. It was July 8th and lasted about 5 minutes. It wasnt really informative as he just moved my leg around to make sure my knee joint was tight and he seemed pleased with my progress. I've got another follow up in October where i'll get x-rays to make sure everything has healed nicely. I mentioned some minor discomfort in my patella but he didn't seem too concerned at this point since it was only around the 7 week point.

In Physio at week 7, in addition to the routines i've described in my previous posts, i started doing some forwards running in the Swimex pool which was more challenging than the backwards running I've been doing. Outside of the pool, I've added some zig-zag walking patterns with the exercise bands rapped around my ankles doing about 40-50 steps forwards and backwards and then side to side. Also, I've added some hip raises where i lye flat on the floor with my knees bent and holding a ball in between my knees. you slowly raise your hips above the ground so that your body is in a straight diaginal from your knees to your head while at the same time, squeezing your knees together. All these exercises are great for strengthening your hip muscles. The stronger your hip muscles are, the more weight they can handle and the less pressure on your knees.

That was it for week 7. This past week which would technically be week 8, i spent with my wife in Punta Cana - Dominican Republic so i don't have much to report. I took my exercise band with me, used the gym at the resort and did a lot of swimming to keep my knee going. I've been told that i'll be starting Plyometrics soon at physio so i'll report on that at the end of the week.

Sorry, no pictures this week. Thanks for reading my ACL surgery recovery blog.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Week 6 - ACL Surgery Recovery

Its been 6 weeks since my ACL reconstruction surgery. The scar is healing nicely and the scar tissue seems to have gone down quite a bit due to the hardcore massaging i had to do. With regards to pain, i mostly get it in the back of the knee which I'm told is normal. Right now, my physio schedule basically starts with 1/2 an hour on the exercise bike, then 1/2 an hour of strength training then 1/2 an hour of various balance exercises then 1/2 an hour in the Swimex pool.

In addition to the pool exercises outlined in week 5 bloog ( ), this week in the Swimex, I was allowed to added some basic kicking against the current.So basically, with the pool jets set at a reasonably strong current shooting against you, you would use a floating board if you're not a strong swimmer, to support your upper body, you would kick to try and keep yourself from being pushed back. At this point, you're not allowed to do any kind of whip kicks or side kicks, just basic kicking. I really like the Swimex but the next day, my knee is very sore, again, mostly in the back.
The other new exercise i did this week was out of the pool involved the use of a resistance band wrapped around my ankles and then stepping though a side to side pattern on the floor. I've actually created a diagram you will see below. You must step in and out of each box one leg at a time. I've numbered each spot in the order you're suppose to step. The exercise band really helps strenghten the outer part of your legs muscles. I've added it to my recommended products on the left hand side as i feel they are very useful and relatively cheap.

Well, thats it for this week. I see my surgeon for a follow up appointment on tuesday July 8th and then I'm off for vacation to the Dominican on July 11th. Hopefully i'll get a chance to do a week 7 update before i leave. Thanks for reading my blog on ACL surgery and recovery. If you have any questions, add it to the comment section and i'll reply.

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