As both a hardcore and dedicated runner, and six-time right knee operation recipient knees are something i know a thing or two, or six about haha. Knees are also a part of the body I have very strong feelings and opinions about. I would like to share just a few of my stories, and tips for speedy and proper knee recoveries whether it be recovering from surgery or just soreness.
Those of us out there who are serious and longtime runners, no doubt have at some point already, or at some point in the future will experience some form of knee injury. Heck even non-runners will likely experience some form of knee injury or inflammation during one life. Injuries of the knees can range from simple strains to torn ACL’s to extensive damage requiring a total knee replacement. Quite often the severity of the knee injury will be in direct correlation to your physical activities, as well as your physical body make up, for example runners, and heavy-set people are at a much greater risk for knee problems than say someone who’s main form of fitness is simply going for leisurely walks, or is a petite person.
My knee problems began just under 18 years ago at age 13. Growing up I was HARDCORE into running, and skiing, probably two of the worst sports for contributing to knee problems. I suffered my first and still to date largest ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) at age 13 from a nasty ski race crash. While the crash is what tore the ligament, I began damaging the ligaments and cartilage in my right knee from years of cross-country running in school and prior years of skiing. Unfortunately the torn ACL I sustained at age 13 was just the first of TWO yes TWO times tearing the same ACL and one torn MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) I have suffered. In addition to the three right knee ligament surgeries I have undergone I’ve also undergone three routine cleaning/maintainance surgical procedures on that same knee.
a comparison of my left knee v.s my right knee. Notice how pushed inwards the right knee is from all the injuries, and surgical procedures.
You will notice in the photo to the left is a full on photo comparison between my left knee and my right knee currently. The reason the right knee is so pushed inwards is due to the repeated injuries, and surgical procedures to it.
The recovery time from a ligament surgery can be weeks, or months typically depending on the severity of the tear and how fast your body heals after the operation.
Now I know that a lot of people are lead to believe that once you’ve suffered an injury be it a strain or a tear that you have to stop exercising and being physically active with that knee…. DON’T BUY INTO THIS! This is a false notion. Yes you will have to ease off the intensity at which you work out with this limb but you don’t need to give it up completely, at least not without being instructed to by a physician. The best way to minimize the pain and swelling as with any other injury in the body is with ice, and rest, however keeping the joint mobile is imperative to keeping your range of motion in tact. As well as ice, and rest, some other excellent activities for an injured knee are: stretching, light walking or even mild and short jogging pain permitted and approved by a physician. Other activities can include mild strength training (increasing as the pain will allow). In short pretty much any activity can be beneficial provided it’s done in moderation and with the approval of your physician/surgeon.
As with most any injury there are certain devices that will help minimize the likelihood of turning a mild or pre-existing knee condition into a severe or long-term knee problem. Three of my favorites and most commonly used are:
The IT Band, which is worn wrapped around the top of the knee to help stabilize and minimize the impact that your knee will suffer while running or walking long distances.
The common knee brace. Designed to apply pressure to both sides of the knee to keep it from caving inwards or pushing outwards.
The custom orthotic knee brace designed specifically for your individual knee to shift your knee inwards or outwards as needed.
All three of these products I use whenever I am partaking in strenuous physical activity. I use the IT Band on my left knee simply as a preventative measure as my left knee has had to bear much weight and strain over the years as a result of six operations to the right knee. The two braces i switch out depending primarily on what activity I am doing, for running I certainly would be using the custom orthotic knee brace.
Again please don’t fall for the belief that just cause you have or have to have a knee operation your fitness days are done, cause they’re NOT. I am living proof of this, last summer I completed my first two half marathon running races, and am currently beginning training for my first full marathon this upcoming summer. You can and will likely continue to be very physically active during and after a knee injury, the only thing is….DO IT SMART!
If you have any questions or wish to share your story with me I would love to hear them.