Week 2 (5/28-6/4):
I had my very first physical therapy appointment exactly one week after surgery. I didn’t know this but when your knee is operated on you end up losing control of your quad muscle. The main exercise that I was started on was simply having my leg straight and trying to drive my knee down by flexing my quad. The first few times I did this was really frustrating because nothing happened. I had been using crutches and not putting much weight on my leg at all so my quad was dead. My second PT session was two days after my first and at this appointment my therapist fitted my brace to my leg. After I knew how to wear it and use it I started forgoing the use of my crutches in my house and just using the brace. This made me feel like I had SO much more freedom. Having two free hands is a luxury you really don’t think about.
This was a big week in recovery for me because I was using my leg and feeling a lot more independent in my home. Preparing meals, moving from room to room, filling my ice machine, and just any movement was much more manageable than before. My leg also benefited tremendously from using the brace. So much so that I was able to drive my car for the first time on 6/2. That alone was a monster of a milestone for me, not being able to take myself to PT and doctors appointments was beyond frustrating.
On 6/4 (two week post op) I used the stationary bike for the first time. The bike was on level 1 and I went for 30 minutes, I covered a whopping 3.18 miles. I didn’t feel exhausted or anything but my foot did go numb towards the end of the session. I was actually a little nervous to start up again in fear of feeling so fatigued that I would hate exercising and not jump back in like I had been dying too, I guess you could say a fear of failing? I am glad I did though because in the end it made me happy even though the numbers were not impressive.
*I stopped taking pain medication on 5/30.
Week 3 (6/4-6/11):
This was my first full week of being able to exercise. I used the stationary bike again 6/6 and shocked myself with covering over 8 miles in 45 minutes. A definite improvement from two days prior. The gains at this point were so encouraging. I also did 8 minute abs for the first time to engage my core for the first time in ages. The big proof of gains was when I did a 30 minute bike ride 6/8 and covered 6.5 miles, twice as far as my initial attempt!
This was another big week for me because I went to work on 6/10 for the first time since surgery. Prior to that I had been working from home. Coming in was a big deal because I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would be sitting at a desk all day or wearing work clothes. I stuck to a skirt because my knee was still a bit sensitive to touch and dress slacks didn’t feel comfortable when I bent my knee. I was no longer wearing my brace at all times at this point either. I had a considerable limp though because my knee felt like it would “fall backwards” if I took too large of steps.
6/10 not only was my first day back to work but it was my first day back to a full gym, I had been using my apartment gym up until this point. I hopped on the Octane XR6000, a sit down elliptical machine, and was able to work up an awesome sweat and still keep my knee in a stable position and have no impact.
Week 4 (6/11-6/18):
Week four my PT exercises and sessions started to get much more exciting and incorporated a lot of new movements. Initially I was not able to complete a leg raise in my first week of PT but I am not up to 2lbs of ankle weights and can do them forever. My leg was initially missing 10 degree from straight and was at 80 degrees bent, at this point I am missing only a degree or two of straight and am at about 125 degrees bent, we are working towards 135 I think. I can also do a leg curl laying on my stomach, which was impossible two weeks ago. While standing I can curl my leg almost to 90 degree but not quite. My hamstring is still very tight from surgery (they used it to make the new ACL) and very weak.
Week four I did 3 stationary bike work outs (1hr, 40min, 15min), 2 Octane work outs (20min and 30min), a few core work outs, my very first lower body weights work out, and snuck in a few miles of walking. For the weights work out I was doing the leg press machine @110lbs and the inner and outer thigh machine at 70lbs. Everything feels great. The only thing in my recovery that hasn’t been ahead of the curve is wall squats. My therapist had me stand with a ball between my back and the wall and squat a bit (not 90 by any means) and my knee was making a lot of cracking noises and felt like it was shifting. We decided to hold off on those for a bit because she is not sure what is going on. I have a follow up Dr appointment next week so hopefully he will be able to shed some light on the situation.
Overall recovery was very frustrating for the first week but as soon as I started using the leg brace to move around I felt like time started flying by. I am very happy with how everything is going so far and while I get sad / jealous when I see runners out I know that I’ll be back at it eventually. That was a ton of text with no pictures so I will end this post with a bunch of photos from the last week. If anyone has any questions about the recovery process that I have not covered / want to know more about anything in the ACL recovery process please reach out to me! You can leave a comment or send me an email.
Categories: ACL Injury