I had my ACL surgery on December 30, 2010. Not a great way to end my year! Since I am 39 and an active female, the doctor said the only option I had was to use a cadaver ACL (alograft). The surgery went as planned, and I left the hospital 4 hours after surgery with three scope holes, and about a 1 1/2 inch cut just below, and to the left, of my knee. After all the research I had done on the surgery, I thought for sure that I would leave the hospital with a cryo-cuff, and a CPM machine. I was not given either one and was left to my own devices to remember to ice all day and try to get some sort of movement pretty often. I took Percocet for 3 days and then switched over to Tylenol for pain management. I sat in my immobilzer brace for 3 days before i attempted any kind of movement. BIG MISTAKE!!!!!! I definitely should have been bending the knee ASAP right after surgery. Spent a week or so on the couch and was attempting to get up and around several times a day during the second week. Was mobile (with crutches) 3 weeks after surgery, and was driving and back to work (half days) 3 1/2 weeks after surgery. I am a teacher and had my surgery during winter break, worked out great.
Physical therapy did not start until 3 weeks post op. I struggled with range of motion and was behind schedule for straightening my leg. At home, the PT had me place my heel on a rolled up towel while my daughter pushed down on my knee. (One hand on my upper shin, one hand on my lower thigh.) She literally had to FORCE it down and hold it there for 30 second increments. She did not enjoy doing this, but I couldn’t do it to myself, so I really needed her help. I continued with my straight leg lifts and added ankle weights to “amp” it up a bit. At six weeks I began doing interval workouts on the exercise bike and “speed” walking on the treadmill. (I also ended my daily treadmill workout by lowering the speed to 2.0, inclining to 12 and walking backwards. This really helped with range of motion and felt good.) By 2-3 months post op, I was doing the leg press machine, hamstring curls, calf raises, and many balance exercises on the bosu ball.
At 4 months post op, I really tried to step up my workout routine. I pushed it harder on the bike, and tried to increase the weight on the leg machines. At this point, my leg was feeling strong and i decided that I was going to set my sights on completing a sprint distance triathlon in June. (400m swim, 11 mile bike, 3 mile run). I turn 40 in June and had been planning on doing the triathlon ever since last year. I initially was going to change that plan, but since the majority of the rehab I had been doing was on the bike and treadmill, I figured I could still try to compete in the triathlon. (I am only hoping to finish, not win!). Jogging at 4 months post op was extremely challenging, so I waited until 5 months post op to focus on that. In the middle of May (about 5 months post op), I began training on an all-weather track. I began with a light jog on the straight aways, and fast walk on the curves. I then tried to keep a slow pace, but go farther with the jogs. (Jog 200m, walk 100m, etc…). This week I will try to jog 300-400m without walking. I need to be prepared for the 3 mile run portion of the triathlon, which I am certain will become a 3 mile walk for me!! My three daughters will be there to cheer my on, or carry me home!
I know I have left lots of information out about the last 5 months of rehab. I’d be happy to answer any of your questions. Please feel free to post, I will respond ASAP.