Would I still be a middle-aged martial artist if I were a boxer?
I ask because now a second doctor has told me that kicking without an ACL is not a good idea--at least, kicking hard is a bad idea. And I'm finding myself drawn to the idea of taking up boxing as an amazing form of exercise, and perhaps eventually for sparring.
A week ago, I saw a physiatrist--a doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation. My thought was that he would be less focused on surgery, more on recovery, and would be a good judge of what I can and can't do physically without an ACL.
Among other things, he tested the strength of my leg, to see if the muscles around the knee can stand in, to some extent, for a missing ACL. His judgment: "You're stronger than you look." Uh, thanks, Doc...I think....
He explained that one of the risks of kicking hard with my injured leg, even against a bag, is that without an ACL, the knee will travel too far--and in the long run, that would put me at risk of arthritis. And I know I don't want to kick while putting weight on my injured leg, which is how I got hurt in the first place.
Also not good ideas: tennis, basketball, soccer--sports involving a lot of cutting movement. Wrestling/grappling are out as well.
What activities can I do? He said running, sprinting, even sprinting up stairs are fine--as long as I don't bend my leg too far by, say, taking multiple steps in one bound.
As for martial arts, he suggested ones that don't involve kicking--wing chun, for instance.
I asked about boxing. He said that would be okay as well. I would need to be sure, when stepping to the side, that I put my foot flat on the mat. Stepping on the outside or inside of my foot would re-injure my knee (I think that's what happened when I twisted my knee again just trying to sit in a confined space). He even said he thought I could jump rope, a favorite boxing workout, if I did so on a cushioned surface and not a hard floor.
I know that boxing workouts are amazing exercise (I once took a trial class at a cool downtown Manhattan gym called Trinity Boxing Club, but I'm too far away now to attend there). My friend Tracy Hutt swears by them.
One of the instructors at my school was saying that I could focus on boxing instead of kicking in class, and I may try that. But it's looking more and more like I will be boxing for exercise in the near future.