Hi everyone -
Last November I suffered a major knee injury, including a completely torn ACL, a partially torn MCL, and more. My doctor and I decided that, with my lifestyle, surgery was not necessary. Anyway, I've been told that I can now return to my normal activity level and even get back into running again, wearing my CTi brace as needed. It's been years since I've done any running at all but I've decided to start up again. Obviously, I'm taking it very slowly, alternating running and walking for now, but I'm hoping to work my way up to run a 5K by May. I am concerned though, that my injured leg just doesn't move naturally - I feel like I'm hobbling along. I guess I'm just wondering if that's ever going to improve or if that's just how my knee works now. Has anyone else here had experience with running after a torn ACL and no surgery? Any advice would be appreciated - thanks!
My husband had torn his ACL, had surgery though, and has returned to running without any problems. One suggestion is to find a good sports oriented Physical Therapist and get their input.
Also, The Beginning Runner's Handbook: The Proven 13-week Walk/Run Program by Ian Macneill and the Sport Mediine Council of British Columbia is a good program to use to return to running. I've used it and I know a few people who've used this program to do their very first road races, 10K distance.
Good luck, but definately see about PT.
Congratulations on pursuing a more active lifestyle. I made that choice in 2006 to actively pursue a better diet and a more active lifestyle. That can be hard with a job and a family with 5 kids under 9.
I tore my left ACL when I was 23 years old playing flag football. Being the last quarter of college and not wanting to have to go to 4 months of rehab, I opted to have arthoscopy at the time to clean out the mess but not fix it and go on my merry way. Doctor also gave me a Donjoy knee brace. In 2 weeks I was back to 100% physical ability in my injured leg. The key is quad strength. Do lots of leg strengthening exercises. Leg curls, leg extentions, squats, etc., and only do the leg that is injured, until both legs are of equal strength. Running in waist deep water as well as swimming kick exercises holding on the the wall or a float is great as well. As for distance running without the stability of an ACL, I had had no problems because there is no real twisting or start/stop action gong on. I ran my first 5K with the same torn ACL 6 years later and no knee brace. My experiences is that unless there in no other structural damage to your knee, like torn cartilage, your knee will, within a few weeks, have the same abilities as the "good" one as soon as the inflamation subsides and the strength comes back.
I eventally had to get my knee fixed when I planted to kick a football and I suffered a pivot shift on that left knee resulting in a torn meniscus. Doctors surgically repaired my knee using a patellar tendon graph and removed 1/3 of my meniscus. Within 4 months of surgery I was given to go ahead to resume all activities including kicking footballs. That was 11 years ago. I developed a cyst in my left knee as a result of the surgery, but another arthoscopy fixed that two years after ACL reconstruction. Since then, my knees have been fine and I run 5Ks in under 20 minutes. This February I ran my first 1/2 marathon, at age 40.
Side note: I tore my PCL and lateral colateral ligaments in my right knee playing soccer when I was 17 and to this day I still have no PCL in my right knee. This has no bearing on my ability to run long distances. As long as you keep your knees bent when you run and don't make any quick cuts left or right, you will be fine. My opinion is that distance running is probably among the safer exercises you can engage in with no ACL as long as you are on a good running surface and have good shoes.
Good luck and my prayers are with you.
I agree with see a good PT specialist. Mine made all the difference. Also I then made the commitment and investment in a coach/trainer to get my work out to the next level. All the work with the weights and the swimming has made all the difference. I am up and running my 4 miles 3x week, and working on the 10K on the weekends.
Just to give you an idea, I popped of a motorcycle and tore both acls, mcls and broke the fibula, cracked my knees, and more. All this happened this summer. While under surgery for the other injuries, my surgeon was able to place my legs back into form and no surgery was required on my legs. The leg bones knit and the tendons and muscles were immobilized for 2 months. I had to learn how to walk, and I'm now running again. ---Honestly, get the best professional supervision in the early stages, and then continue to build strength.
I know what you mean by wobbly. I found the swimming to work what I could not tolerate with the weights. It's still lap after lap, but I can feel the difference when I do hit the stairs. Pivoting too quickly and the weakness is still something I am working on with the side squats.
Yoga also does wonders for stretching and dealing with scar tissue as well as muscle trauma memory. It worth a class or two just to release and allow your leg to relax after all the hard work.
Best of luck.
Thanks so much for your advice. Things are going pretty well so far and I'm up to running 2 12 minutes segments with 2 minutes of walking in between. I hardly notice a problem with the knee at all now, although I'm still running reeeeeeeeally slowly. My biggest concern now is hills - I can't seem to run uphill at all. I've made so much progress otherwise, but hills just suck the energy right out of me. Sure, I'm still out of shape, but I'm thinking it also has something to do with my injury. Did you experience anything like that?
I definitely have the same experience with the hills. For me it the tendons. Stick with the PT and use the leg presses, lunges, and side steps. Also my PT specialist said to jump rope to get the muscles used to 'explosive action' - the push off is similar to the push off running up hill. I also was advised to do a few laps in the pool just squat jumping down the lane.
Sucking energy is such an appropriate description.
Glad to hear you are doing better.