ACL Update: What is Strong Does Not Wither

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Fellowship of the Ring


ACL pre-surgery

An hour before surgery, looking like I snuck some morphine already.

I recently received a tweet from a follower in Spain who also tore his ACL. He asked me why there hadn’t been an update in some time – was everything OK?

I’m not keeping you guys hanging, there just isn’t much ‘news’ that occurs between 6 months and a year of post-surgery rehab. In a word, it’s strengthening. I unfortunately had to stop going to my beloved physio clinic due to a new job and the hours that came with it. Such is life. If you rolled with the tear, you can roll with the punches. Since I never got to properly thank them for everything they did, I figure now is as good a time as any. If you’re in the GTA and have any sports/muscle-related injury, I cannot say enough about the capable, competent, friendly, professional work being done at Complete Sports Performance in Pickering, ON.

My physiotherapist, Laura Markovic, MPT, BSc was one of the most important people in my recovery. From Day 2 (because on Day 1 I couldn’t feel anything), she was there, pushing me to work hard, helping me every step of the way. I watched the Olympics there in between sets on the exercise bike for the first time, I watched the World Cup there from the treadmill for the first time. In short, they’ve been a massive part of my recovery and I’m forever grateful for what they’ve done for me.

I have however, been slacking. With the new stomping grounds came changes to my routine, and finding my groove has been tough. As such, I’ve missed quite a few nightly exercises and I’ve seen the pace of my progress come to a halt, sadly. I’ve only just got my ducks in order, signed up with a closer physiotherapist and begun doing my exercises again. The loss in strength is tangible. It sucks, but I have no one else to blame. I preach this often through my blog: don’t skip out on your exercises.

I suffered quite a bit of atrophy as I’ve touched on in previous posts. It’s been quite the ordeal to try and build that muscle back, and aside from returning to the gym and enjoying the hell out of straight-line running, I have to be careful with physical activity still. The knee is no doubt stable, flexible and in overall much better shape than even a few months ago, but looking just a few inches to the right shows me how much is left to do.

ACL range of motion

Day 5, reached 84 degrees of bend (two week target is 90)

This is just a short, personal post but I wanted everyone to know exactly where I am in the recovery, especially Marco. I’m so thrilled that you guys take the time to follow and tweet me. I hope you’ve found the updates helpful and will continue to provide them whenever I feel I have something of value to offer. For now, I’ll just cover three questions that have been posed to me in the past couple of months:

6 months congrats. Do you still experience any pain? @ACL_TIU

Honestly, I don’t feel pain but I do encounter a fair bit of soreness. If I’ve had my leg cranked back for an extended period of time such as on a train or during a sporting event, there’s some stiffness as soon as I’m mobile again, but that’s about it. Even with that, I fully expect it to stop once I progress a little further.

What do they have you doing in physio for strengthening now? How often? 

So I’m doing a lot of work on my quads, glutes, calves, core and hamstring. Hamstring should be in bold, but that’s because I had a hamstring graft. Fun fact: did you know for those of us who are in our 20s and opt for a hamstring graft, it should grow back to pre-surgery size within 2-3 years!

I just tore my ACL Saturday. What do I need to do before surgery? 

Plenty, but take it a day at a time. Understand your options for surgery (cadaver, patella, hamstring graft) and which one is best suited for you. Make arrangements for school or work. Plan to lean on friends and family as much as you can in the first two weeks, they will be tough and mobility will be extremely limited. Start looking for a good physiotherapist now and begin strengthening work immediately: it will help in the recovery process! Most of all, stay positive. This isn’t the retirement-sentence it was 20-30 years ago.


I really hope that helps you guys. If you have other questions, please feel free to tweet me @adamrodricks. I also check the #ACLFam hashtag regularly.


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