This post will be rather long so I apologize in advance. I have a few things I wanted to talk about.
Rob says my progress is moving along nicely. The tenor of the PT routine has really picked up. Starting earlier this week, Rob added in some new wrinkles, like agility drills, that have made the routine longer and much harder. Most of the exercises involve the use of weights. In fact, I'm really cracking a sweat now! Also, Rob has modified several exercises to simulate the sorts of stressors a trail runner will encounter. For example, it's one thing to do lunges with dumbbells. However, it is an entirely different thing to do them when you have to plant your lead foot on a wobbly piece of styrofoam (I think trail runners sometimes are not aware of all the sorts of twisting and torque they are imposing on their body when they run ... until they are unfortunately injured).
I am still battling through small hamstring pulls. I didn't know this, but Rob explained to me that they didn't just excise a small portion of hamstring tendon. On the contrary, Rob showed that they took out what looked to be a 6-to-9 inch long bundle that wrapped back around underneath my knee. In fact, they have a tool that looks like a plumber's snake to do this. That is why the main incision on my knee is remarkably small.
After my morning workout yesterday, I headed up to the Cleveland Clinic for my checkup with Dr. Jack Andrish and his colleague Julia Brasfield.
These two folks are wonderful medical professionals and people, a point that my closest friends are probably tired of hearing me make. I do not know if anyone ever reads this blog but I would say that if I was ever asked what is the one thing that an active person with an ACL injury could do to increase their chances of a successful recovery, it would be to get the best medical treatment you possibly can. I will save the tale of how I "discovered" Jack for a future post. For now, suffice it to say the Internet can be a wonderful tool. After hours of research, there was no doubt in my mind who I wanted to do the operation and lead my recovery. Yes, it is a pain in the ass to get second opinions, and to get involved in a battle royale with your insurance company because your health care provider is out-of-state, or "out-of-network", to use the vernacular of an insurance representative. Resolve to pay the extra money and DO IT! Think of it this way: what price would you pay for several extra years of running or hiking, say, if you were told you could never do it again?
So what did I discover up at the clinic? All systems are go as of now! The popping I occasionally hear in my knee is probably nothing more than my knee cap adjusting to a different tracking. Jack is not a fan of treadmills for ACL recovery. I believe he said it has something to do with the biomechanics but don't quote me on that one. Alas, my return to running (and spinning) will be delayed for one month. However, the good news is that I can increase the mileage for my walks. In fact, I can increase my mileage incrementally until I hit 4 miles one month from now. As for swimming, I am now allowed to flutter kick (when I get to that point!) but whip kicking is definitely out of the question. What about biking? I can do stationary biking pretty much on an unlimited basis and I have also been given clearance for road biking as long as I don't use toe clips/clipless pedals. Other big news concerns my lower body weight routine; I am now allowed to make reasonable use of my twig of a "bad" leg. Thank God! Of course, it will take me awhile to build up equitable strength in both legs. Any sort of seated leg extension or other similar weight-bearing exercise that puts my knee into the so-called "open chain" form is strictly off limits because the shear force would be maximized on the ACL graft with potentially disastrous consequences. Finally, Jack recommended I incorporate a set each of abductor and gluteal exercises to stabilize the hip joint. Done! :-)
Swimming is coming along very nicely! As unpleasant as they looked, I am happy to say that today I did 8 laps freestyle with the pull buoy, something that would have been almost unimaginable a couple of months ago for a guy who was afraid to put his head under the water. Thank you Beth Byron. Wow! I think I am really going to like swimming and it is an excellent form of cross training. I have a buddy, Ken Boike, who is an exercise physiologist. He's always told me to "work the entire slab" and has espoused the virtues of cross training for runners. I think I've discovered through this injury that he's on to something.
Finally, if you ever have a chance, try working out with resistance bands. After several hours on the Internet doing some research, I bought a resistance band kit a couple of weeks ago: the Terrell Owens Super Strong Man Bodylastics Set. Before you curl up on the floor laughing, I can assure you that if you properly use them you will get every bit the workout you would in a gym. Last weekend I went to Alabama and this weekend I'm heading off to Vancouver. Rather than hoping the hotel has some crappy, beaten Bowflex machine, it's easy to slip some bands in your suitcase and work out in your hotel room. if you've never used resistance bands before, confuse your muscles a bit and give them a try!
That's the view from here for now. I hope everyone has a great weekend!