ACL Reconstruction - A Personal Trainer's Journey
I partially tore my ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) as well as my meniscus whilst learning to ski in Verbier six years ago.
Here I am below hobbling around Switzerland post-injury unaware of the true extent of the damage!
Hobbling around Switzerland
Following a misdiagnosis there was rest, rehabilitation and I trained myself very cautiously. Apart from some instability during lateral movements and when walking downhill everything appeared to be fine. I got on with life and with my jo - my Training clients and my colleagues were so supportive. My clients picked up their weights when I couldn't and my colleagues helped me to set up workstations where I was limited because of my crutches. I continued teaching all my classes, adapting my coaching points, and teaching off the bike for Spinning classes.
All was going well until ..... three months later I took to the squash courts where my competitive side got the better of me! Pop went my ligament as I furiously lunged for the ball and I fell to the ground in quite a bit of discomfort.
The face says it all!
High on gas!
How I left the hospital that day
What came next wasn't easy - I am used to dashing around from the gym to clients to classes and all of a sudden my independence had been taken away. I had a big decision to make - did I try to live without my ACL knowing I would never do the sports I loved again - tennis, CrossFit, squash, rock climbing, hiking, and jumping around the gym like a Pokemon on acid OR did I go in for the surgery?
I was having the surgery - my job as a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor depended on it as well as my love of sports and fitness! A full ACL Reconstruction followed by 12 months of physiotherapy lay ahead.
I immediately began a pre-habilitation program with the guidance of my physiotherapist. I was going to bullet proof my knee and the surrounding muscle to ensure I came through the operation with the best chance of making a full recovery.
The day of the operation loomed ....
Bruising starting to come out
Healing & stitches soon to come out
Bruising from where they took a piece of hamstring
I woke to the news that the operation went well and was a complete success although they had to remove 70% of my meniscus as well as take a piece of my hamstring to reconstruct my ACL.
I was keen to begin my physiotherapy at Wexham hospital, weekly to start, bi-weekly, and finally monthly. My first task was to get the full range of motion (ROM) back - flexion and extension of the knee joint. I was allowed to complete 10 revolutions on an upright spinning bike. I was thrilled to be hobbling back into a gym even if it was just for rehab and not my usual full-on spinning class!
It was always going to get hard before it got better - I was up and down like a yo-yo, my mental health took a battering as I realised the extent of the injury and what lay ahead to ensure a full recovery. Nothing prepares you for your limitations in the weeks after surgery, for the help you might need doing the simplest of things especially when you are usually self-sufficient and independent. There were tears of anger and frustration but I had no choice but to get on with it, my job as a Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor depended on it.
An ACL reconstruction should not be underestimated, recovery is not linear and takes a full year of rehabilitation. It is a slow and at times frustrating journey but like anything, if you put the work in and remain consistent you will be rewarded with results! I am back doing everything I love, challenging my body and my mind.
I have since supported 3 clients through their ACL reconstruction and rehabilitation, I have had a further 8 clients who came to me post-surgery to help them regain mobility & strength.
My injury has made me a better trainer, I can empathise with my clients and their journey no matter what the injury. Being injured is not easy however I got my knee back, I returned to doing all the things I enjoy and it feels stable maybe even stronger than it was before, and mentally so am I!
Keep smiling and never give up x
Rock Climbing Post Surgery