Week 10 was fantastic, in no small part due to an hour’s lesson with my coach, Dave Birkett. As I’ve moved into double digit weeks and closer to the 3 month mark, I am definitely starting to feel the spirit of the Phoenix. In light of Week 9′s unexpected and quite intense pain when walking, the robustness of the operated leg during Week 10 was markedly improved (though I am prepared for set backs down the track of this process). Activity levels are way up over previous weeks and not only can I add wider varieties of exercises and greater levels of intensity, the leg withstands these pressures much better in the shorter and medium terms.
Though the end of Week 9 included significant pain and discomfort in the knee, this seemed to be resolved by the Monday gym rehab session. While the walk to the gym included pain with each step and it took a while to warm up, after about 10 minutes of body weight leg work, the leg felt okay. Dropped intensity of BJJ solo drills and intervals for Monday, but did 25 mins of cardio (15 bike and 10 elliptical). No unwelcomed side effects and knee felt relatively pain free the following day. Indeed, this theme of pushing the leg with few side effects is one of the hallmarks of Week 10. Wednesday did 10 minutes of BJJ solo drills, introduced the rowing machine and 25 minutes on the bike and elliptical with no issues. Likewise, mixed it up with 3 sets of the Athlean-X ’8 Is Enough’ medicine ball circuit with no complaints from the knee. The cherry on top of the week was an hour of drills with Coach, including some challenging work from guard in terms of hamstring strength and knee flexibility. When, in past weeks, this would have been way too many new things in one week, the knee coped wonderfully. In contrast to earlier weeks, walking after a new set of movements or higher intensity workout would mean significant limping and soreness for 36 hours, there was no extraordinary pain or stiffness immediately after the work or the following day. The knee is still swollen and stiff and fragile, but this ability to cope better and recover more quickly is a major new improvement.
There are many weeks and months between now and full recovery and I am aware of significant weakness and malcoordination in the hamstring and knee, yet as I edge towards the end of 3 months’ work I can appreciate how rapidly the leg improves. Though progress is in tiny increments, these increments are apparent on a daily basis. From a BJJ point of view, while I’d absolutely love to spar, even working at the consistent rate of drills I enjoyed on Sunday would be welcomed for the duration of my recovery. While I felt some difficulty in moving around in guard, I was less staccato than I thought I would be. The drills themselves worked the inner thighs and hamstrings as well as the knee’s range of movement, in a safe way, which benefits not only my practice but also my recovery – double win! Best of all, Coach introduced some new refinements and concepts around triangle positioning that not only have excellent rehab benefits, but also lay the ground work for my game’s progression. The thought that I can continue to grow while working at the rate that I am able to at the moment, is an incredible morale boost and I am so grateful for having such a supportive and insightful Coach! The next big BJJ milestone is to be able to join a class; at the moment I am okay to do a quite a range of movements, but having drills done to me is a little more problematic.
Second week of three of the batch of exercises prescribed in Week 9.
- 1 hour lesson of guard work with Coach (X-choke, armbar, triangle work)
- Cardio/interval work to 25 minutes per session (half bike and half elliptical)
- Adding conditioning work – e.g. ’8 is enough’ med ball workout – and movements with few symptoms in the aftermath
- Cut 1 of the 2 kilos that manifested in between Week 6 and 8
Every ACL op and recovery will be particular to the person. The thoughts and experiences recalled in this series of posts is in no way intended as medical advice or as a replacement for seeking medical attention for any injury. This information is presented merely as a record of one person’s experience with ACL operation and recovery.