25th February 2012 – From the advice of my surgeon, I increased the exercise I was doing in order to continue strengthening my quad and hamstring. I cycled at a quicker pace, with more resistance and for longer. I also started doing more exercises involving my leg. I used the quad and hamstring weight machines in the gym for the first time and used a kettle bell when doing squats to create a bit more resistance than just that of my body weight. I made sure that I was working my leg more rather than sticking to doing exercises incorporating my left leg, but making sure as to not put it under much strain. I was now off of crutches but still didn’t feel much at ease for anything other than a slow walk on flat, even ground.
Deadlines loomed and illness struck keeping me from going to the gym for a couple of weeks which was very frustrating. I managed to keep up with a few of the exercises at home, but when you’re ill you just don’t feel like straining yourself too much. Plus my mind was concentrated solely on the work that I had to do. It was a minor setback, but played on my mind a quite a bit.
I returned home for the Easter break that I had from University and visited the physio. He gave me a few more exercises to do in which to strengthen my leg muscles whilst work on my balance a bit more. These included single leg squats, which really worked my quad as well as helping me focus on regaining balance in my left leg. This was also to help the nerves in my ACL to start interacting with my brain again as when I tore it, the blood supply through the ligament had stopped and this meant that the nerves had stopped working.
25th March 2012 – I reached a massive personal goal and went out for a cycle ride with my Dad for the first time since my injury. It was only a gentle cycle that probably lasted less than half an hour, but to be doing exercise whilst outside in the open air felt much better than being in a gym facing a wall next to some sweaty man I did not know. At least this way I knew that that man was my Dad. It was also nice knowing that I now had another way of getting around other than walking at a slow pace or being driven/driving somewhere as it was slightly too far to walk.
I had also gone out and bought myself a cheap gym (Swiss) ball from the advice of another physio that I had a session with during my time at home. This allowed me to do more towards recovering at home and is also a flattering addition to my already clustered room.
Walking had become much easier at this stage and getting around is much quicker now that I can use stairs without too much of a problem. I no longer have to search out lifts and ramps all the time. I am still finding walking downstairs to be a bit of a problem though; I am not able to walk down at a constant speed as my left leg struggles to cope with the weight when my leg is bent whilst moving my right leg down to the step below.
10th April 2012 – 136 days after tearing my ACL, I ran for the first time. It was not at a very fast pace, it was not for a great period of time, and it was only back and forth in the car park of the physio, but I knew that it was a massive step in my recovery. My knee felt a bit sore afterwards, but I guess that was to be expected with not having used my leg in a high impact manner for 4 ½ months.
The next day I ran a few lengths of my garden as a warm up before I started doing my exercises for the day and felt OK but I was still very wary about every step I took with my left leg. The day after, I was back at the physio and did some interval running on the treadmill, and this time it felt amazing. There was no longer a dull pain in my left knee and I felt more confident about each step so I was able to keep my head up and just run. I probably only managed about 4 minutes of running but it felt natural and invigorating. I didn’t really want to stop.
13th April 2012 – NEW SHOES!
On advice from friends and my dad, I decided that I should get a decent pair of running shoes now that I was at that stage in my rehabilitation. My dad suggested a specialist running shop in Portsmouth where they spend about half an hour thoroughly examining you by conducting a biomechanical assessment. They look at the way you stand, the curve in your knees, bow in your legs, the way you walk (gait) and jog etc, then they give you advice and suggest the correct footwear for you. I now have a pair of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn and they help reduce the strain that my legs take whilst running.
I recommend to anyone who is thinking of getting some running shoes to pay that extra bit more and get a decent pair after being examined by a biomechanical specialist. Especially if you have any sort of current leg injury or are injury prone. It is definitely worth it.
I was extremely excited about the next few months of my recovery; the thought of running really buoyed me, along with the notion of regaining all of the fitness I had lost over the past few months.