Post-ACL Surgery Yoga Flow

It’s been about 2.5 years since my ACL Surgery… Since then, I’ve fully recovered, trained to become a yoga teacher, and have been instructing for the past 1.5 years. During this time, I have learned a LOT about the anatomy of the body (actually, just the body in general!), and I’ve been getting more technical when creating my classes/YouTube videos.

There was a request from a few of my readers to put together a post-ACL surgery yoga sequence, and I was finally able to record something after returning from my recent travels. Check out the video below and let me know what you think! I can create more based on each person’s timeline recovery & what needs to be strengthened. I hope this helps!! <3

ACL Post-Surgery: 2 Years

It has been 2 years since my surgery – 2 YEARS! Time has certainty flown by, and my life has changed dramatically since the day I was wheeled out of surgery (in a good way!). Recovery has pushed me down a path of becoming a certified yoga teacher, maintaining a healthier, stronger body, even better body awareness, and giving me confidence to go after things I feared the most. When you have to learn to rely on others, re-learn how to walk, develop extreme gratitude for having working legs, and practice PATIENCE – it is inevitable that you will change. You have a choice on looking at things from a positive or negative light, and each will have a dramatically different outcome on your life 🙂

While I don’t feel like my left knee is 100% back to normal – I still think there is a little scar tissue where part of my hamstring was removed (I am currently having work done on this to break up the scar tissue), plus along my scar – it is definitely now the more stable and stronger knee compared to my right knee. I’ve had my gait analyzed while running, and both feet under-pronate, and my right foot tends to turn out to the right a little bit (due to a weak hip/glutes).

Now that I’ve been training for a half marathon, increasing my miles from 4 miles/week to 17+ miles/week, my knees have NOT been happy. So new shoes, KT Tape, icing, foam rolling, and cross-training have all been regulars in my life as of late! I know it’s due to lack of cross training & weak muscles, so I’ve been incorporating a few exercises on top of running & yoga to strengthen my hips, hamstrings & quad muscles. Runners knee is no joke – it knocked me out of my last half marathon – so I want to make sure I am taking all of the necessary precautions so it doesn’t happen again!


Golden Gate Bridge Run!

Unfortunately, I was blind-sided by Peroneal Tendonitis, which I have been rehabilitating the last few weeks. Nothing to do with my knee (that I know of), and grateful that it’s not my ACL 🙂

As far as flexibility goes – the more I run, the more relaxed my knee feels. Some days it feels more swollen, but these days it seem to be less! Not sure if its the running or hot yoga, or combination of both… but I’ll take it!

Overall, my knee has healed up very well. One of my biggest concerns was re-tearing my ACL – I was extremely cautious the entire first year, and as time passed & I began doing more activities with side-to-side movements again (like tennis), my confidence built up, and my knee became more and more stable.

So for those who have recently gone through surgery, or are currently in recovery – there is light at the end of the tunnel! You know your body, so be patient, and listen to it! It knows how to heal – all you have to do is help strengthen it – the first few months are ridiculously important to the final outcome of recovery. So do the initial work in PT, and you will be so happy you did, 1-2 years later!

For all those Post-ACL surgery veterans out there – runners, non-runners, yogis – how do YOU feel 2+ years out after having knee reconstruction?

And for those still in recovery – what is your biggest struggle? And what are the biggest things that have changed in your life since you’ve had surgery?

Weekend Update, Impromptu Travel & 5K Recap

Sooooo where to begin? Things have been absolutely crazy the last month, and I have barely been able to keep up! A few things:

New job – yep, after 2 (LONG) years of working in ecommerce, I quit my job. New job = a new chapter in my life, advance in my career, and less stress. Besides the longer commute to work, I couldn’t have asked for anything better! Well, unless I was traveling for my job, but that might be in the not-too-far-away future 😉

Running – I decided to run a 5k on Thanksgiving – so lately, I’ve been making time to run 2-4 miles a few times a week, as well as signing up for a 5k this past weekend as a preparatory race. The race was called “The Donut 5k” – you get to eat donut holes every mile, then are handed a half a dozen donuts once you cross the finish line. Of course it was a no brainer to sign up! Unfortunately, I didn’t feel so good from going out Thursday and Friday night… but, fortunately, my body magically decided it was fast – and I ended up running the race in under 24 minutes! First place in my age group, 7:41 pace. Considering I had major knee surgery last year, I am incredibly grateful for the progress I have made in running – the body is capable of amazing things!

donut run nina elise

Travel – I took an impromtu trip to the beach in FL on Monday this week – yep, for 1 day. I needed some time to relax before starting my job, and even though I only had 1 day to do it, I did it right! After teaching my Sunday yoga class, I booked a flight 6 hours before take-off – went to a yoga workshop for 2 hours – then hurried to the airport to catch my flight. I arrived in Florida around 1 am, slept, then went to the beach from 11 am to 5:30 pm at night. I read, napped, and swam in the ocean. At night, I hung out with family. It was the most perfect day trip I could have asked for! Tuesday I flew back to Columbus at 4 pm, managing to somehow run errands, go shopping, and meet friends for dinner. Travel is awesome, but sometimes it lacks in the sleep department. But – that’s what the weekends are for, right??

west palm beach yoga

jupiter florida

fit blonde yogi beach

Yoga Teacher training – only 2 more 10-hour Saturday classes before I am DONE! This 200 hour training has taken quite a toll on me mentally – but in a good way! I have been learning so much, and there just are not enough hours in the day to study. Also – I will be putting on my first ever workshop next Friday! Update to come on how this goes/possible future handstand workshops in Columbus!

One More Thing…
body building warehouse protein powder
My friends over at body building warehouse were kind enough to send me some samples of their products – whey protein from happy European, grass-fed cows. I finally was able to give their protein shakes a try – the hot chocolate (YES, a hot chocolate drink that’s good for you!!) and Banana Peanut Butter. I consider myself pretty smart, so I decided to mix the 2 together – banana + chocolate + peanut butter = Gods gift to humankind.. so basically, this was an amazing shake. I recommend mixing with ice/a frozen banana + milk (I used almond). You can find a huge range of products at their site – check them out here, it’s hard to find good quality protein mixes these days! There are also non-dairy flavors too, so there is something for everyone!

protein shake body building warehouse

That’s it… for now! I’ll be posting a recap in the coming weeks of finishing up my yoga teacher training, more races, and moving! Also – where will I be traveling next?? More to come on this 🙂 Hope everyone is having a fabulous week!

ACL Post-Surgery: 1.5 Years

It has been 1.5 years since my knee surgery last February, and I wanted to give an update on how my knee is feeling!

I have taken a mini hiatus from running due to picking up teaching yoga, working 50-70 hours/week at my full time job, as well as trying to fit in my own personal yoga practice… so when I do run now, it is 1-2 times a week, running 3-6 miles at a time. Also – because of the runners knee I developed earlier this year, I decided to take it easy on running to give my knee a rest after running the quarter marathon back in May.

I’ve started going to a different chiropractor, who has been doing some soft tissue work on my scar tissue, which I think has been helping. It’s painful, but great. I feel a little instability/clicking behind my knee, but I am thinking it is just scar tissue. I also still have issues with my IT band from time to time, but I need to be more conscious of rolling on my foam roller after I go for a run. Oh – and I’ve also been using a lacrosse ball to work out knots – in my hips, my back, shoulders, ankles, chest, calves, etc. It HURTS… but the tightness and knots are making things worse, so getting in there and working them out end up helping in the long run.

I had a full-on evaluation of my gait (while running) the other day, and this is what they found:

my hips are tight (way tighter than I realized)
I am kicking my legs back too much (bending my knees) and not engaging my glutes when I run. Like, at all. This means I overcompensate and use my quad/hamstring muscles, which tire out.
**The woman evaluating me looked at my butt, then told me that with the amount of running I do, my butt should be way bigger. I literally laughed out loud, because I thought my butt had gotten bigger… I used to have such a pancake butt, its kind of what I was known for. Hey, baby steps.
Because of the above, it is causing stress on my IT band, which it why it tightens up so badly after my runs increase past 5 miles
My right hip is way outa line. I can’t even do a pistol squat properly on that leg.
My right hip is out because my knee is out of line (on my good knee! dangit.). So, looking at my legs, my right knee splays in, while my left knee (new ACL knee) is in one straight line up and down from my ankle up to my quad.

What does this mean? Retraining the alignment of my knee, strengthening my hips, improving my hip flexibility and learning to use my butt when I run! So physical therapy every. day.

Because of all of this, I’m an going to focus solely on fixing these small details before really getting back into running. I’d rather give my body a break and start from the bottom so I am not continuing to get burnt out from running so much, as well as getting these recurring injuries.

Continuing to do yoga, because 1) I like it and 2) it is low impact on my knee. Between teaching and taking heated classes, my knee flexibility has improved immensely. I can do full on lotus (see below!), which is part in due to hip flexibility improving… And there are days where my knee does feel stiff and swollen, but it only happens maybe 1-2 times a month. I’ll ice to help, or even stretch to loosen up the muscles a bit.

Lotus pose in handstand

Lotus pose in handstand

Overall, I am still seeing changes in how my knee feels, even 1.5 years post op. Taking off running & incorporating cross training has helped my runners knee (more time at the gym + tennis), so it is not an issue for me anymore. When I do cross training, I don’t even think about the cutting and moving around – before, I used to be so conscious and babying my knee because I was scared of re-tearing the ACL. So even playing tennis is a lot easier, and I can move freely without having to think about my knee.

I will say, the biggest issues are just the IT band, which I can fix just by strengthening my hip and glute muscles…. and the numbness on the outside of my shin. It still doesn’t feel right, like I never regained full feeling back where the nerve was hit. I can feel that part of my leg, it’s just a weird tingly feeling when I press on that small area. I feel like I am still getting feeling back, but I think it is just taking foreverrrr.

I think that’s all I have to report! For those who have gone through an ACL surgery – how are you feeling 1.5 years post-op? 2 years? 3 years? I would love to hear how you are doing!

Nina Elise Yoga

1.5 years post-op ACL surgery in left knee

Weekend Recap: Quarter Marathon PR, Race Eats & a Blog Makeover!

What. A. Weekend.

I signed up for my first half marathon since my knee surgery back in December – unfortunately, runners knee knocked me out for 2 months, and I was unable to train. Luckily I was able to switch to the quarter marathon for the same race – Cap City – and get in a little bit of training. and guess what – I PR’ed! I don’t know how PRs work after a knee surgery, since you are pretty much starting over from scratch, but this race was definitely the fastest I have been able to run in a few years (for this distance). My goal was to run under 53 minutes – and I ended up running 53:17 (8:08 pace), which isn’t too horrible. I felt great, pushed myself and would not have done anything differently! This is without a lot of training – I mostly did yoga and ran 1-3 times a week, so I can’t even imagine how much faster I would have been if I actually trained the way I should have 😉 I was also super motivated by my coworker, Whitney, who I ran with for the first 5 miles. She was a rockstar and beat her PR by 8 minutes!

Nina Hunt Cap City Quarter 2

Running uphill, legs burning, almost to the finish line!

Next up: time off. I am going to be taking some time to strengthen my hips & work with a physical therapist so I don’t keep having this knee pain. I taped my knee to tide me over while training for the race, but I can’t do that forever. Once I feel a little stronger, I’ll start doing a few 5k’s and build my way up for the Disney half in January!

So let’s talk Race day essentials: What do you wear? What do you eat before? What do you eat after?

Running Gear Nike Asics

What I wore:

I dressed 15 degrees warmer than the start temperature (55 degrees) and it was PERFECT. By the time I finished, I wasn’t drenched in my own sweat and the weather was sunny & warm!

Run fuel

What I ate: 

  • Wake up, drink half a liter of water + a little coffee
  • Eat half a cup of oatmeal + half a banana 2 hours before the race start time
  • Finish the banana 1-1.5 hours before race starts + a little bit of a protein bar
  • Gu gel with extra caffeine 15 minutes before the race
  • Finish protein bar after race

I took some gu gummies with me for an emergency, but I ended up not needed them. I tested out what to eat at my 10k last weekend, and i figured I needed some more food before running – so this was a little bit of a test run for me, and it ended up being perfect for my race (thanks for the oatmeal suggestion, Nikki!).

Cap City Celebrate

Enjoying my post-race champagne!

Cap City PR

2 PR’s = 2 Happy girls!

In other news – I got a blog makeover!!! My amazing coworker Colleen redesigned my site header & helped organize the navigation of my site to better match my “yogi” theme. And I am in LOVE! She is an absolute blog guru – I consult her with any type of social media questions I have. She is definitely an up-an coming blogger to look out for – and her beauty tips are spot on (she recommended rose-hip oil to clear up the eczema on my face.. she is my beauty expert!) You can check her out here 🙂

And last but not least… I will officially be certified to teach power yoga in 3 weeks! Unfortunately, not in studios until I finish my 200 RYT training in the fall, buuuuut it’s a start! And my friends are going to love me for all of the free yoga classes I’ll be having in my home/gym 😉

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!

ACL Surgery Post-Op – 1 year: Runners Knee follow up

In my last 1-year post-op follow up, I mentioned I was having knee pain. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or Runners Knee. This normally happens when there is an imbalance or weakness in your leg muscles, which can cause inflammation under your kneecap/causing your kneecap to track. After going to physical therapy, I found out my left hamstring (the one that was used for my new ACL) lost a lot of strength since last year, my inner thigh muscle was weak and my hip strength varied on both sides. Also… my right leg is about 1 cm shorter than my left leg, which I was given an insert for my running shoes. So for the past month, I have been taking things slow, building up strength using weights, weight machines and doing a lot of balancing exercises. In between, I have been trying to build up my mileage – adding about a half a mile each time i run every few days. I started out not even being about to run .25 mile without having pain… now I am up to 5 miles, no pain! I’ve been using KT tape for my knee, which has been helping a lot as well. I tried a few ways, but this video was the most helpful – I have no knee pain when using this method.

Below are a few exercises given to me by my physical therapist, as well as a few others given to me by a local personal trainer:

  • stability work for VMO knee strengthening
  • 30 second balances on a bosu ball, each leg 2x
  • Leg extension machine, with feet turned slightly outward – squeeze quad at top of extension for 1 second – you should feel this on the inner thigh – 3 sets 6-8x
  • Hip aBductor machine – 4 sets 6-8x
  • Leg press machine – put a band around legs to make sure knees are not buckling in – 2 sets 15
  • Leg press machine – one leg, making sure knee is not bucking in – both legs – 2 sets 15
  • Standing hip strengthening exercises with bands
  • Single leg deadlifts (with or without weights) – both legs – 2 sets 10
  • Donkey Kicks, both legs – 4 sets 10
  • Step-Ups with a 10 lb weight – go slow, making sure knee is in line with toes – both legs – 2 sets 10
  • Lots. of. Stretching.
  • Icing after every run
  • Using a rumble roller or lacross ball to work out any knots after every run

Unfortunately, I had to bump my half marathon I was signed up to run in May down to a quarter marathon since I haven’t been able to train like i need to. I’ve run both distances for this race before, so I am going to try and PR the quarter distance this time around 🙂

I have been going stir-crazy not being able to run as much as I would like, so lots of  yoga and workout classes are keeping me busy. Has anyone else had issues with runners knee? If so, what have you done to recover?




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