Thursday, July 26, 2007

Training after ACL Surgery

I'm eagerly looking forward to my return to martial arts training, which (depending on my doctor's say) will be in a matter of weeks or perhaps a couple of months. But I didn't want to turn into a sofa vegetable in the meantime, so I had to figure out a way to work out while I couldn't attend class.

ACL surgery itself is extremely painful, your mobility is extremely limited, and I found it difficult to do much of anything at first. I did have lots of physical therapy to do at home as well as in the therapist's office, so this was my first step.

After reading this web page from GrappleArts I started doing push-ups and crunches--I couldn't do sit-ups yet because locking my feet under a couch would put pressure on my knee. I was able to maintain my ability to do 50 push-ups in one set, although I had to come up with variations on push-ups to avoid total loathing of them. For instance, at physical therapy, I now do 50 or 55 pushups with my legs supported on one of those big balancing balls. At home, I'll do 25 pushups with a 4-pound medicine ball under one hand, switch and do 25 pushups with the ball under the other hand. Sometimes I'll finish with 10 diamond push-ups--where you put your hands under your chest and form a diamond with your index fingers and thumbs.

I've started doing sit-ups also (knees bent, feet locked down) with my therapist's permission. But I think the crunches have helped a lot with my core--I'm doing 50 straight forward, and 50 angling to each side.

I also use the physical therapist's equipment for as much of a cardio workout as I can. For instance, I'm now using something like a StairMaster, but instead of only using it for 10 minutes, I double the time to 20.

And at my sensei's suggestion, I'm doing slow kicks--four different kinds of kicks, but extending the kick over a slow five count, holding for five, and then retracting for five. About a month and a half ago, I was finally able to balance my weight on my left leg again--I always follow my doctor's and PT's instructions--so I can now do slow kicks with both legs.

What can't I do? Anything that involves torquing my left leg with weight on it, like a roundhouse kick. Any fast, snapping kicks with that leg. I can't kneel on my left knee yet--something that worries me when it will come to grappling some months from now. I can't run well yet--I start limping within five minutes, even on a treadmill.

But I finally recently got permission from my physical therapist to return to a regular gym. The elliptical machine is fine on my knee, I'm going to try the rowing machine. And I'm going to begin hitting the heavy bags at the gym--I've been doing that carefully at home, now I'm going to try it with more vigor.


Anonymous said...

I am in my low 40s and tore my ACL up in December. Surgury was in February and I am just now getting back after 6 months. I am realizing I am not as strong as I was and am taking it real easy. I do Krav Maga and Aikido and MMA. I know it will take me another 6 months to get it back to where it was, but just keep working it and hang in there. I did a lot of what you are doing now, and it helped, but my wind is way gone and that is killing me right now. Biggest thing is to be careful and not push it too much, because you will find there is not much there and strain something. I got my suspensorary last week- not bad, just a reminder to take it easy...
Good Luck
Alpha Female...

BobSpar said...

Belatedly, thanks, Alpha Female, and good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hang in there... it's a long road but you can work your way back. I had my third knee surgery in 2004 and the doctor initially said I needed to leave the martial arts. He changed his mind after months of rehab and my constant insistance that turning into a couch potatoe would be worse for my knees. My right knee has a reconstructed ACL and major cartilage damage. My left knee has a repaired PCL and no ACL with significant cartilage damage as well as arthritus. I'm 37 so it's not from age but injury and I will eventually need total knee replacement. I wear knee braces on both knees now so grappling is very limited for me and I had to eliminate jump kicks but I'm still very active in American Karate.

Just wanted to let you know you're not the only one. Hang tough!


PS. I did leg lifts as an alternative to situps during my rehab.

BobSpar said...

Thanks for the encouraging words, Karen. Wow, you've gotten damage to places I didn't know exist, I had to look up what a PCL is (posterior cruciate ligament).

I am so impressed that after so much knee surgery, you're still training. (Bobspar bows) Talk about a non-quitting spirit.

Since I made this post in July, I'm back in what my school calls a "core" martial arts class, which is similar in many ways to a karate class. I wear a brace on my left knee.

I am going to start this week going to kickboxing. BUT I'm not going to do free sparring, I'm going to do drills and then "level one" directed sparring--and EVERYONE is going to know to be careful with my knee.

I won't return to grappling and to free sparring in kickboxing until February.


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Chris Mack said...

So now that is is 6 years later how did the return to Martial Arts go? I wonder because I just found out that I completely tore my ACL last April prepping for a tournament and my Black Belt test. I was lucky in some regards, in that my knee (a brace) stayed stable until after my test. I didn't realize it, and I am concerned about the surgery and how my it will affect my return to Tae Kwon Do.

Bob McG said...

Chris Mack: Check out later posts. Long story short: I returned to training and I got my black belt. I did subsequently get a second ACL injury, on the other leg, and I have found other ways to say in shape.

Alica John said...
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