Heather Johnson describes her fitness and rehab journey after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in a racquetball accident. This is a guest author contribution
This is the worst thing that could have happened to me, I thought, after the doc took one look at my knee and confirmed that I would need surgery to reconstruct my torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). A nasty fall on the racquet ball court put me out of action for a few weeks, and an MRI said knee surgery was required. Three months later, the fitness routine I had put together boosted my fitness level and improved my stamina while allowing me total use of my knee again. There seems to be some fitness found in therapy.
I certainly didn’t think my injury was serious enough to merit a surgery, not when there was no swelling and just the minimum amount of pain. I nursed my injured knee with ice and rest for the first few weeks but the MRI proved surgery would be required.
Muscles and Tendons of the Knee
There are two groups of muscles at the knee and four ligaments. The four quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh work to straighten the knee from a bent position while the hamstring muscles, which run along the back of the thigh from the hip to just below the knee, help to bend the knee.
The quadriceps tendon connects the quadriceps muscle to the patella providing the power to straighten the knee.
Four ligaments connect the femur and tibia and give the joint strength and stability including the medial collateral ligament (MCL), the lateral collateral ligament (LCL), the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) and the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), in the center of the knee, which limits rotation and the forward movement of the tibia. The ACL is the one I tore.
So there I was, being wheeled into the operating room with a lot of trepidation.
You’ll be back on court in three months, promised the doc, but only if you’re willing to go through three weeks of intense rehab and three months of physiotherapy to get your legs strong again.
In the minutes following the surgery, I doubted this statement as all I felt was excruciating pain and my groggy mind wondered if I would ever set foot on the ground again, leave alone on the racquetball court. For someone like me who’s an avid racquetball player and has always been active, the enforced period of rest combined with intense amounts of pain was too much to take.
The weeks following the surgery moved slowly; sitting, standing, walking and even lying down were uncomfortable because of the brace on my knee. The rehab started immediately; in spite of the pain, I pushed on, simply because I was driven by the need to get rid of my crutches at the earliest. It was a long three weeks indeed, but finally the day came when I was able to stand on my own two legs, shaky though they were.
And then came the part that made me change my mind about the entire episode – I was sent to the gym to start working out on the stationary bike and the treadmill. I was set to do squats and leg lifts with weights. Muscles that had atrophied these past two months woke up screaming in pain. I added swimming to my grueling workout schedule; at one point, I was spending almost 4 hours a day on building up the strength in my legs.
My Rehab Program In a Nutshell
- Stationary bike and treadmill
- Squats and leg lifts
The driving factor was the response from my bad knee – the more I worked it, the more flexible it became. My nightmares of hopping around on one leg forever slowly gave way to day dreams of the next racquet ball tournament I was going to play.
In three months’ time, I was fitter than I had ever been before – I had unwittingly followed a work out schedule that not only helped me regain full use of my knee, it had also boosted my fitness and stamina to levels I had never reached before. My racquet ball game had never been better and I had never moved this fast on court.
I’ve changed my mind – my torn ACL is the best thing that could have happened to me.
This post was contributed by Heather Johnson, who writes on the subject of X-Ray Technician Schools Texas. She invites your feedback at heatherjohnson2323 at gmail dot com as well as below in the comments.