Recently, I personally underwent a knee scope and a repairment of my ACL. Many people ask me how long it takes to really start feeling better and how long will it take for you or me to be able to get back out there and run like we used to. I underwent knee surgery about three months ago and getting back into physical fitness has been a struggle. One that I hope anyone reading this knows is worth the struggle and hard work. Running for me is an escape from reality. Running is a time for peace to take over and for my body to set a pace and just go with it. Being that prior to my knee injury I was a proud half-marathoner with many first place finishes under my belt, I had hopes of bouncing right back from surgery.
Well, bouncing right back from surgery did not happen. It has been three months and now I am back to running at a tempo quiet similar to the one prior to my knee surgery, but it has taken me three months and lots of time and hard work to get back to the place I am at now. Let me further explain that knee surgery is not something one should just jump into. When faced with a knee injury, you must think about many different things. The downtime between the injury and surgery and the downtime after the surgery will vary depending on your health and your prior fitness level before surgery.
The day of my surgery, I awoke to nothing but pain and anxiety. The pain was typical and expected and so was the anxiety. Here I was a long time half-marathon runner being told that it would be several weeks before I could start training again and several months before I would be running like I used to run. If I would be running like that at all. With those words in the back of my mind, I knew I was in for the fight of my life. A fight I was willing to take on and beat. Don’t ever let someone tell you that you won’t be the runner you were before. Only think of yourself as being better and in time you will be better because of the training you will have to do in order to be that runner you once were.
After about two weeks, my stitches came out and I was allowed to put pressure on my leg and knee. This felt strange, but I knew that I had two options. One, start physical therapy or rehab my own knee on my own terms. Now I don’t recommend rehabbing your own knee unless you have the proper tools at home. I chose rehabbing my own knee because I had the necessities needed to do so at my home. The physician advised me I would need to ride a bike for several weeks and do strength training before stepping back on the treadmill or running outside. I did not go against his advice. Instead, I took his advice and added not only strength training and spinning to my workout but also changed my diet.
With the spinning came the popping of my knee cap which scared me but I knew it would be normal for many months. I spinned until I couldn’t take it anymore and some days was harder than others. Though, I managed and you will too. Getting back out there and running was my ultimate goal. After three long months of rehabbing my knee, I am now back to running at a pace quite similar to where I was at before I had surgery. My diet is back to normal and I am eating healthier and I am watching my fat intake. When I have a sweet tooth I don’t limit my sweets, instead I choose healthy options. I do enjoy a few gummi bears after my workout as this helps replace some of the simple sugars your body loses during running or any type of physical activity. At night when the craving really kicks in, I go for sherbet or yogurt. Otherwise you should stick to healthy options including increasing the amount of protein you are getting in your diet. I love turkey burgers and chicken breasts done on the grill with mixed vegetables. Before I close, I want to leave you with some circuit training exercises that have been helpful to me and I am sure will be useful in your weight management. Remember, never say never and never let anyone tell you that you aren’t going to be strong enough again. Give your body the time it needs to heal and your body will only reward you. Remember that eating healthy is a must and sometimes this means keeping the bad foods out of the house to avoid temptation.
Circuit Training Exercises:
- Stand with feet shoulder width apart, trunk flexed forward slightly with back straight in a neutral position.
- Arms should be in the ready position with elbows flexed at approximately 90 degrees.
- Lower body where thighs are parallel to ground. Explode vertically and drive arms up.
- Land on both feet and repeat.
- Prior to takeoff, extend the ankles to their maximum range (full plantar flexion) to ensure proper mechanics.
There are various types of skipping and they make excellent circuit training exercises. Some types to include are two feet off the ground, alternate feet, hop on one leg for 5 then swap and so on.
Running on the spot, pick your knees up to waist height and pump your arms.
Start with your legs side by side and your arms by your side. In one motion, jump and spread your legs out to the side while your arms raise out and up over your head. Land in this position and then return to the starting position and repeat.
If you’re lucky enough to own any cardiovascular equipment (treadmill, cross trainer, rowing machine) they make good circuit training exercises. Of course, if you perform your routine at the gym you have an even greater range of choice.