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!

Running:
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.

Yoga:
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

This e-book was created as a guide to help everyone – Adults, Kids, Athletes, and Non-Athletes – recovering from ACL surgery. After reading this guide, you will have a better understanding of what to expect, surgery options, costs & insurance, and a detailed timeline for recovery.

Improve your range of motion, increase your strength, and feel more confident post-surgery with a 2 month yoga progression plan.

ACL Post-Surgery 10 Months

10 Months Post-Op Summary (11/13/2014)

  • Running about 2x a week on the treadmill
  • Circuit/tabata workouts 1-2 times a week – with HIIT – sprints on the treadmill, ab work, etc
  • heated workout classes
  • Yoga 1-3 times a week. Classes but also practicing at home
  • Trying to gain more flexibility in my knee to sit back – I can sit on my heels, but i can barely sit on my butt between my heels – the Virasana pose in yoga. I feel like after 10 months I would have been able to do this… anyone else still have trouble?

Virasana

  • I have not been running as long – between moving and the colder weather, I haven’t had the time or will to go run on a treadmill for long periods of time. I usually jump on the treadmill for 15-30 minutes, depending on how I feel. I know my cardio has definitely taken a hit, so I am working on building it back up.
  • Last month, I talked about Rolfing. So far, I have gone to 4 appointments and have seen a little bit of improvement:
    • easier to take deeper breaths
    • feel more balanced – when i walk, when I stand
    • legs felt lighter after the second session – not sure exactly what was done, but a lot of work on my lower legs. I feel like they have been really neglected, and now they are not so tight or knotty
    • IT band on left leg – feels stronger, doesn’t bother me except for the occasional meniscus issue

I am going for my fifth session (out of 10) this week, and am so excited. The fifth session works with the deep ab muscles, and is supposed to help with digestion as well. I will most likely be done with my 10 sessions by my next post, so hopefully I will have amazing results to share then 🙂

These past 2 months have been extremely stressful for me – emotionally, physically, mentally – but I somehow feel stronger than ever. I don’t worry so much about things, and my daily meditation practice has made things a lot more easier. I have a lot more time to workout nowadays since my commute to work has literally been cut in half, which has also made life less stressful… although, going through a breakup makes things about 10x harder to do, especially when you just want to lay in bed all day. However, I am thinking of getting my 200 hr yoga teacher training next year, so I know the training will be taking up a lot of my time then!

ALSO: I forgot to mention that I won a giveaway from willrun4pizza‘s blog! I have been wanting to try Nuun electrolyte tabs for a while, so I am so glad I got to try them 🙂 I got the tri-berry active tabs and the all-day grape raspberry. The active tabs had a type of fizzy/biting taste to it, which reminded me of drinking a soda. the all-day tabs had a vitamin-y smell to it, but tasted good! My only negative review would be the fake sugars and a few added ingredients like propylene glycol – are they really necessary??  I always forget to add the active tabs to my water when working out, but I like to add the all-day tab to my water at work. I feel like I drink too much water sometimes, and it really throws off my electrolyte balance. These tabs are awesome for helping with that! Has anyone else tried Nuun electrolyte tabs?

Nuun

ACL Post-Surgery 9 Months

9 Months Post-Op Summary (10/16/2014)

  • Running 2-10 miles a week
  • Circuit/tabata workouts 1-2 times a week – with HIIT – sprints on the treadmill, ab work, etc
  • Workout classes like barre and heated workout classes
  • Yoga 1-3 times a week. Classes but also practicing at home
  • Still a little swelling in my knee, it comes and goes. I can sit back a little more easily on my heels since last month
  • I have been running longer distances, usually 4-6.5 miles. I sometimes have to give myself a few days rest, as my knee (outside left) feels a little off/sore. This is an indicator that I need to strengthen my quad muscles more… meaning more squats!
  • Went to an orange theory HIIT class the other week, and my RIGHT knee started to hurt! I’ve been trying to build up more strength on the right side of my right leg – from my ankle to my hip – as there is some serious instability and weakness going on there. I have had soreness in my right knee/knee cap and all up and down my right leg for a while, and I am wondering what is really happening. I have never had knee pain like this before (in my good knee) – I couldn’t jump up or do a squat! This was after doing 30 minutes of sprint intervals on the treadmill (with an incline), so I am wondering if I just overdid it with my workouts.
  • I went to my first Rolfing session today! It is pricey (about $120-$130/session) and painful, but I have heard that it works wonders for athletes (or anyone in general!). You do a series of 10 sessions to re-align the body. I was evaluated standing up: my hips are tilted, my entire left side of my body is slumped lower than my right, my entire torso is tilted/shifted, and my right leg/knee is over-compensating. For my first session, my neck, lungs, shoulders, arms, hips and lower back were worked on. The only way to describe how it felt is that my skin felt like it was being stretched! I could feel the crystals being broken up under my skin, and it HURT. However, only a few hours after my appointment I feel like I have more space to breathe in my lungs (I have always had trouble taking deep breaths). I was told I might feel tired for the next day or so, and to drink lots of water, as the tissue/fascia is opened up, so more fluid is able to flow through. Below is a description of rolfing – has anyone ever tried? If so, what were your results?
    • Wikepedia describes Rolfing as “…an alternative medical treatment marketed by the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration (RISI). The Institute states that Rolfing is a “holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organize(s) the whole body in gravity.” Rolfing is essentially identical to Structural Integration, whereby a forceful technique is used in an attempt to re-position tissues under the skin.
    • “Rolfing is typically performed in a progression of 10 sessions, sometimes called “the recipe,” which is claimed to provide a systematic approach to address goals for the theorized alignment and movement of various body areas. The purported purpose is to educate the body to have better alignment within gravity. Rolfers manipulate the body to move the fascia until they believe it is operating in conjunction with the muscles in a more optimal relationship. In addition to physical manipulation of tissue, Rolfing uses a combination of active and passive movement retraining.”
    • “Skeletal muscles often work in opposing pairs called the “agonist” and the “antagonist”, the one contracting while the other relaxes. Rolf theorized that “bound up”fascia (connective tissues) often restrict opposing muscles from functioning in concert. She aimed to separate the fibers of bound up fasciae manually to loosen them and allow effective movement. She claimed to have found an association between pent-up emotions and tension in muscles. This claim of a muscular/emotional connection is not supported by scientific studies.”
    • Benefits of rolfing: “Rolfing Structural Integration has the ability to dramatically alter a person’s posture and structure. Rolfing SI can potentialy resolve discomfort, release tension and alleviate pain. Rolfing SI aims to restore flexibility, revitalize your energy and leave you feeling more comfortable in your body. The genius of the work rests on Dr. Rolf’s insight that the body is more at ease and functions most effectively when its structure is balanced in gravity. Athletes, dancers, children, business professionals, and people from all walks of life have benefited from Rolfing SI. People seek Rolfing SI as a way to ease pain and chronic stress, and improve performance in their professional and daily activities.”

I am seriously so.excited. for how I am already feeling after only 1 session! Back tightness, sinus issues, IT band tightness, lower back issues, breathing restriction, knee problems… I am hoping a lot of these issues are resolved after my 10 sessions.

So 9 months – not feeling much difference from 7 or 8 months… maybe a little more confidence, and not thinking about my knee so much. And my knee flexibility – never thought I would be doing a scorpion in handstand like this EVER! The human body’s ability to heal after surgery continues to surprise me everyday.

scorpion

Also – I ran my first race last month – 4 miles! Normally, I would have run at a 7:45/8 minute pace… however, I ran at an 8:40 pace. The course was awesome, but I was not feeling good. About 1.5 miles in I was ready to be done! I feel like I have really grown to dislike running because my pace times are not very good. I have to be patient with myself and realize that it will take time to get back to where I was! Besides, I am enjoying yoga and my heated fitness classes way more than running every day 🙂

ACL Post-Surgery 8 Months

Not much to report – i would say my knee feels about the same as month 7. However, I have been feeling stronger in my workouts, pushing myself to do sprints on the treadmill or run over 6 miles at a time. I am not sure how I expected my knee to feel at 8 months post-op, but it is still not 100% back to normal. It feels pretty great, though! Recap is below

8 Months Post-Op Summary

  • Running 2-6 miles 1-2 times a week
  • Circuit/tabata workouts 1-2 times a week – with HIIT – sprints on the treadmill, ab work, etc
  • Workout classes like barre and heated workout classes
  • Not applying oils to my knee or icing anymore – no pain
  • Yoga 1-3 times a week. Classes but also practice at home + lots of handstand work!
  • Still a little swelling in my knee, it comes and goes.
  • Completed a  whole30 – 30 days of strict paleo – to see if what I was eating was causing any inflammation. I made it to 3 1/2 weeks before I started introducing foods like grains and dairy back into my diet. I honestly didn’t notice a difference, but I was also eating a lot of nuts/fruit to compensate for my lack of chocolate.
  • Still have clicking/catching feeling on the inside/behind my knee. Not sure if it is still scar tissue around my hamstring or what… anyone else experience this? No pain, it just feels like a tendon is tight or catching on something.

Flying-Pigeon

So I ran a race the other weekend – about 2.4 miles. It wasn’t a super serious run, because a lot of beer was consumed. I drank a beer before running lap 1, stopped after lap 1 and drank a second beer, ran lap 2 and drank a third beer, ran my 3rd and final lap and finished up with a 4th beer. I did not throw up and I was the first girl to finish! I even sprinted towards the end! I am running another beer run on Saturday, then on Sunday I run my first “real” race that is actually timed – 4 miles! I am trying to be relaxed about my run – I am still trying to get back to my pre-surgery pace, but its been a struggle. I am also not running as much, which doesn’t help. However, I do have a half marathon in January to train for, so I can save my training miles for that 🙂

ACL Post-Surgery 7 Months

7 Months! This is a huge milestone for anyone who has undergone ACL surgery: No more visits to my surgeon, no more physical therapy & release to sports. That’s right – No more Physical Therapy!! I could have stopped a month ago, but I felt like I needed a few more sessions to feel confident enough to be on my own. My last appointment was bittersweet – I really grew to love working with all of my physical therapists, but they rehabilitated me to a point where they could no longer help. Now I am free! I have been going to boxing, running longer distances, more yoga and tennis. My knee is feeling great – not 100%, but getting better everyday.

I look back and can’t believe it has already been 7 months. I have worked so hard to get back into shape, and have finally gotten to a point where almost all of my strength has come back. I look back at my first post and all the research I did to prepare for this recovery – a lot of expectations, fears, but always positive. The journey to recovery was a learning experience for me, and I do not regret having the surgery at all. Time goes by very quickly, and by staying positive, it makes the road seem not so bumpy.

7 Months Post-Op Summary

  • Running 2-5 miles 1-2 times a week
  • Icing and/or applying oils to my knee at least 1x a day
  • NO MORE PHYSICAL THERAPY!
  • Still a little swelling in my knee, it comes and goes. I am doing a whole30 – 30 days of strict paleo – to see if what I am eating is causing any inflammation. Right now I am on day 18 and do not notice much of a difference.
  • Went to a few boxing classes – no issues! I didn’t do any kicking, but I was very aware/careful of pivoting my knee when punching the bag
  • Did Stand-Up-Paddleboard Yoga this past weekend – I think I have found my new favorite activity!! (I’m the blonde in front)

SUP Yoga

PT Exercises/Workouts

  • Elliptical at the beginning of my workouts to warm up, 4 minutes
  • Run half mile on treadmill @ 7-9.5 speed
  • Bosu ball jumps – like this, but only bouncing on one leg. Then I turn around and do the other side (bosu ball is against the wall). 10-15x each leg, 2-3 sets
  • One-legged jumps over hurdles – kind of like this – but, with a half turn in the air. There are 4 hurdles – Jump over 3 hurdles, turn back and repeat. 2-4 rounds
  • One-legged ladder work like this and this and this. Complete down and back.
  • One-legged jumps onto a box – 10x, 2 rounds
  • One-legged jumps off of a box – 10x, 2 rounds
  • One-legged jumps off of a box, with a half-turn in the air. repeat on each leg, 10x, 2 rounds
  • TRX band – side jumps: stand on left leg, jump to left of left leg onto right foot, at an angle. Jump back. Repeat on right side. 5 each side, 2 sets
  • TRX band – one-legged squat jumps, alternating between hopping on right and left leg –10, 2 sets
  • TRX band – one-legged squat jumps to the side – 10, 2 sets
  • 2 markers set up on ground – jump up on a high box (think box jumps) into a squat, then jump down into a squat. PT calls out color of marker, and I run forward to the marker, then back to middle – about 2-3 minute each time, 2-4 times
  • Played Tennis with my PT – it felt great! He threw the ball to me, and I hit it back. Sometimes he would catch it, or it would just rebound off the back wall.
  • Stretching after every workout
  • Yoga – everyday for at least 5 minutes
  • Running on treadmill or outside for 10-50 minutes 2-3x a week
  • Beginning to do HIIT on the treadmill again – jog for 10 minutes, then sprint for 30 seconds, jump off for 30 seconds, repeat for 10 minutes. 

So what’s next? a 4 miler in a few weeks… a Half marathon in January… and my 200 hour yoga teacher training after that. I am a very curious person & love being active, so I will always be pushing myself and always, always learning.

I will be updating my ACL progress every month now instead of every week, since most of my major healing has taken place. Most likely the posts will be shorter, and will continue to post until at least my 1.5 year mark. I really hope that my blog been helpful for anyone undergoing ACL surgery, and am so thankful for those who have supported me through my recovery! Below is a picture I took of my favorite flower – a Sunflower – to remind everyone to always be positive, always look for the beauty in all situations and never forget be the bright & shining being that you truly are, deep down <3

Sunflower

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