Road to recovery part 1

Looking back over my injuries and realising the progress I have made, the hard work I have put in is showing in my results. Emotionally, although at the start I may have felt I was ok about my injury, behind a smiling face was a gutted man. I know I’m only half way through but I see light at the end of the tunnel now.


Day 1 of my injury: my knee is swollen, the fluid around it is causing a lot of pain. I am not able to walk around without crutches.

After a good pre-season mixed with a few weeks of being sick, my weight’s at 100kgs and skin folds are at 60.2mls.

Day 2: I have my MRI scan to find out the damage. They break the bad news, it’s a full ACL rupture and a torn lateral meniscus. A few days later, I am finally walking around without crutches, with a limp and slow paced, but able to do more.

Week 2: I am getting ready to check in for my op.


Day 1 and 2: I’m drowsy and sleep is pretty much all I do. Once the drugs start wearing off, the pain starts to kick in, the sleeping problem begins.

Tossing and turning, always trying to find a comfortable position.

I try not to take the pain killers as they make me feel a little loopy.

Six weeks on crutches is going to be a long time!

Week 2: they take the staples out of my knee and the scar is clean. Theyuse a special clip to take the staples out. I’m happy that I don’t have to get my dressing changed every 2-3 days.

Week 4: I’m walking around the house without crutches, but for no further than around 20 meters.

My rehab is going smoothly. I’m able to do the leg press, on the operated side I’m able to leg press 20kgs followed by an active pool session which brings a feeling of normality back into my leg until I hop out of the pool again.

I am gaining weight at 108 kgs and skin folds are up to 74mls. My diet hasn’t exactly been the best and the lack of conditioning bumps me up a few kgs.

Week 5: I have the green light from the knee surgeon to drop the crutches as my progress has been going well. That’s a week earlier than they said.

I take a little drive around the block in the venga beast (our family mover) to see whether I’m able to drive again. I’m not sure about doing an emergency stop but I’m pretty sure I can get my left foot over in time driving at 20mph. Goodbye crutches!!!!

Week 6: the weights I’m lifting are increasing which is a good sign. Still a lack of bend on the operated knee but gains are being made. Getting my knee to a 90 degree angle is the priority.

Week 8 – I do a watt bike session to test the lungs out and as I predicted… Punctured. Plenty of work ahead of me.

Week 9: I carry on with hypertrophy & work capacity (get big & work – lots of volume).

Week 10: Weights are still increasing and I nearly have full 90 degree bend in my knee, there’s still a bit of pain coming with it though. My max leg press on my left side is now 230kgs for 5 and the operated leg 130kgs for 5. So it’s getting stronger but as you can see, there is still a massive difference!

A bit of feet shuffling back, forward and sideways, must be going well as I got to put my boots on for this session.

Kind of false hope in my head that I was gonna run and frustration kicks in as I watch the boys do captain’s run. I got itchy feet watching.

Week 11 and 12: My light week where I am doing less reps and sets but more conditioning work.  I can do a full lunge with the bend at 90 degrees but there is still bit of pain around the knee. My weight has slightly gone up to 110kg on the back of Christmas. Let’s just say it was a very good feast that whole day, the first time in six years where I could enjoy my food and have a few quiet ones on Christmas Day and New Year! My skin folds are paying the price at 80mls.

Week 13 and 14: Building towards my isokinetic strength test on 22nd of January which will let me know if I’m ready to start doing some running. We add some leg extensions to the program we are already doing and strength continues to increase.

This is the halfway point in the graft lane and hopefully it’s all downhill from here.

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 10.26.52 pm

Photos above are pre op end of September and post op mid January

Physio James Collinge report @JamesCollingePT (Twitter)

An ACL injury is massively debilitating at any stage in athlete’s career resulting in significant timeloss, psychological burden and a long road back to performing at your best. For Johnny, everything was amplified – fifth child on the way, out of contract at the end of the year and a lengthy time on the sidelines leaving few remaining games to make his mark on the season.

When confirmation came of an ACL rupture and a lateral meniscus tear Johnny was silently distraught. However, he never complained, only wanting to know the steps in the process and when he could get back on the pitch. Impressive focus for someone hobbling around on crutches with nearly 8 months of rehab ahead of them.

The rehab process is complex and highly individual but identifying stages and goals that need to be achieved before progression to the next step helps simplify it and keeps the athlete focused. Over time completing these small milestones help create the bigger picture and another step towards the turf.

Roughly, this can be broken down into the following phases:

Pre-Operative (help the knee settle, improve and maintain physical qualities).

Early Post-Operative (decrease pain and inflammation, restore range of movement, normalize walking).

Mid Post-Operative (restore muscle size and strength, improve movement competency).

Advanced Mid Stage (develop movement and strength characteristics in line with the demands of running).

Late stage (improve athletic capacities to pre-injury: speed, agility, jumping, fitness etc).

Return to training.

Return to play.

Uncle John has been in “the graft lane” now for about four months from initial onset and there has certainly never been a dull day on his road to recovery so far. At times Johnny’s mood has been low, which is understandable given the demands of rehabilitation and the pressures he’s had to deal with behind the scenes. The lowest point came 3 week’s post-op – unable to get off the floor with an angry knee, an old rotator cuff tear causing havoc and a neck spasm as a result of being on crutches. Nevertheless, he always shows up steel faced and cracks on with his assignment for the day. Besides the ruthless banter and bemused stares out of the corner of his eye when we start a new program, for the most part Johnny has maintained his enthusiasm and loud colourful personality. When he’s at his best, he’s great to have around the club, setting the standard for work ethic and character for other injured lads.

Up to now, his scar has healed well and the range of movement in his knee is comparable to his other side. We are still continuing to gain strength and work for those PB’s in every session whilst progressing through his running mechanics and movement drills. Johnny will be having his first isokinetic strength test in the new year and everything is on track for a return in April. Looking forward to seeing the big fella back in action!

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