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ACL reconstruction and skiing...

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Has anyone had an ACL reconstruction surgery and gone skiing since? What's it like? Is it easy to get back into the groove? As of now, my strength is 90 percent in my injured knee, but I still feel a big difference between the two legs when I walk.


post #2 of 19
Well I'm probably the only one here with that experience. [I'd use a winky face here but I hate them so I won't]. It will come pretty quick but go easy to start with. There is a big difference between having the strength back and using that strength in a coordinated fashion. If you have some other activity to start in with and mimic movements it would be good. Inline skates, ice skating, for me it was Xcountry skiing (skate). If not go ski but I recommend you spend some time on the greens and just get used to it all again.
post #3 of 19

Coming back from Surgery

Originally Posted by Bohemian
Has anyone had an ACL reconstruction surgery and gone skiing since? What's it like? Is it easy to get back into the groove? As of now, my strength is 90 percent in my injured knee, but I still feel a big difference between the two legs when I walk.


Yeah, I'm a pretty classic example. Blew out my ACL, MCL and LCL on my left knee and crushed the meniscus on my right knee. Dr. Cooley rebuilt the left and scoped the right in March of 2003, had I not broke my neck later that same year I would have been back to Master Racing, I raced NASTAR with crushed nerves in the neck for the 03/04 season, the knees were great. I did wear a DonJoy brace all that season. I had my neck fused this last April. This last season I race the full circuit and Nationals without my DonJoy brace. I suffered a level 2 tear of my left MCL in Slalom training in January. Was out 2 weeks then back on the schedule. The year I had my knee's done I was playing Golf by June.

My wife had an ACL replaced in her Right Leg this last May and raced the full Master season on it with a brace, she no longer wears the brace for Tennis, hike-run or Golf. I started her with her Golf career last July (she had the knee surgery in May). Last July was her first swings with a golf club, she is a 22 HC now and dropping quick.

There is hope!

Read this on our Rehab
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks! This makes me feel a lot better!

post #5 of 19
Hey, Chris.

Many, many people on this board have had ACL reconstructions and continue to ski. I had a patellar graft reconstruction on my left knee nearly fifteen years ago now and I don't even think about that knee anymore.

The surgery is no fun and rehab is a drag but you can make that knee about 99.9% as good as new.

If you do a search on this subject, you'll find literally dozens of threads about people's experiences.

Good luck.
post #6 of 19

You will be as good as new

Sorry to hear about the knee,

I had my left ACL reconstructed 15 years ago. My Doctor used part of my hamstring tendon to replace the ACL. At that time recovery was tough due to the fact they opened the whole knee up and kept you in a full leg immobilizer for 8 weeks. Needless to say there was not much muscle left after 8 weeks of atrophy.

While recovery was slow, the knee has been better than my "good" knee ever since. An advantage of the hamstring tendon over the patella tendon (if you are considering both and not artificial or cadaver) is strength of the graft and the reduce chance of patellar tendinitis, which is fairly common with patella grafts. However, the hamstring tendon graft has a serious downside - weakening of the all important hamstring. As most who have been through rehab will agree it is quite a bit easier to strenghten the quads than the hamstrings. Having strong hamstrings is very important in protecting your ACL.

My MD cleared me to play any sport, including hoops. But, he did not want me to ski due to the stresses on the knee. Needless to say I passed on his advice and the knee has held up great for nearly a thousand ski days since the surgery.

When you get back on the hill start slow. Your knee will probably be darn near perfect. It is your mind that will need work. Give yourself time to trust the knee again. Within 10 ski days you will be back to skiing just about anything you skied before the surgery.

Best of luck
post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you.

post #8 of 19


My wife had ACL reconstruction last September and skiied in Utah in February. She had a donor tendon for a new ligament, so only had to recover from a single process, if you will. She did ski with a custom California brace and was quite nervous about it initially. Got going pretty good after the first few runs on greens, then got bored and moved on up to blues. She'll probably get back to her blue black runs this year. She did NOT feel comfortable skiing in the East (ice and all) last year and will likely be nervous about that this year. Her surgeon said she should only wear the brace for the first year of skiin but she will likely rely on it for a few trips more. Her PT prior to and after surgery was tremendously helpful, but the single biggest help, she thinks, was the CPM machine she was in about 6 hours a day for several weeks.
post #9 of 19
Originally Posted by bbinder

Her PT prior to and after surgery was tremendously helpful, but the single biggest help, she thinks, was the CPM machine she was in about 6 hours a day for several weeks...

CPM for weeks?

I had that infernal machine hooked up to my leg for 48 hours and I was ready to pitch it out the 5th story window. :

I suspect that treatments have changed a bunch since I had my ACL done 15 years ago.

In any case, I think there are a number of avenues that all lead to an excellent result.
post #10 of 19
Just do the rehab and don't do too much too soon and
you should be good to go. I was told that studies show
that it takes about 9 months post surgery to get the graft
to about 90% maximum strength and a full year to full
strength. My doc told me the most common reason
grafts fail is that people push to hard too soon.
Masters racing within six to nine months of an ACL
surgery does not seem very smart to me.

There was also a recent article in the Rocky Mountain
PSIA magazine that talked about new studies that show
a brace may prevent ACL tears from recurring. There
are studies being done on football players with knee
injuries that seem to suggest this. There is not much
research on skiers yet but I imagine we will see that
in a couple of years. I had my ACL done in 2001.
I wear my brace and have had a couple of situations
where I was glad to have it on. I do everything else
without the brace but feel comfortable with it skiing.
post #11 of 19
I had mine about 1999 or so.
I haul ass.
No need to worry if the surgery and rehab go well.
post #12 of 19
I had ACL reconstruction in June 2001 and May 2005. I'm 55 now. The orthopaedic surgeon told me that it takes twice as long for the tissue to convert from a tendon into a ligament than for a 20 year old. He thinks it'll take me a year to get back to normal. Also, my last surgery required a major repair of the mensicus, which is my real problem now. I've been doing mostly stationary bicycling and still experiencing pain due to the meniscus repair (after four months). I'm going to wait until late January to start skiing and take it real easy.
post #13 of 19


Left ACL 11 years ago, (my hamstring tendon as a graft) , Then a Right ACL in 2002 (cadaver tendon graft), Had to sit out the season (Docs Advise) I came back in '03 Strong and ready! I'm back into the racing scene and skiing better than ever.
The real problem, as I see it, is taking it easy even though you feel fine! Rehab very important, if your active then bypass the expensive PT and do your own, ie bicycle, swimming, Skiers Edge after 6 months or so. Pay attention to your Doc and don't push it!!!

I'm brace free as well! My Ortho didn't recommend a brace due to fact that they tend to move around and if not positioned properly can actually cause more problems!
post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
Well, that's a good thing. Gives me some hope for race season. Do you ever feel it is harder to push in the boot with the damaged leg? I find that problem.

post #15 of 19
Originally Posted by Jim S
I had mine about 1999 or so.
I haul ass.
No need to worry if the surgery and rehab go well.
same here. except I haul tuchus.
post #16 of 19
Hey Chris,

I had an ACL injury two years ago, and yes you will ski again, at least I have. The key for me was to strengthing my hamstrings and quads which will help stabilitize the joint, plus the better overall shap you are in, the less chance there is for other injuries. My endurance was greatly reduced during my rehab. This is a link to the program I followed to rehab and get ready for skiing,

Hope this helps you.
post #17 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I'll check it out.

post #18 of 19
You should be fine. I blew out my ACL, tore my meniscus, and stretched my MCL in December of 03. I got a cadaver graft and a couple of stitches in the meniscus at the end of Feb 04. I started using the CPM macine in my hospital bed about 12 hours after the surgery, and used it about 6 hrs a day for 3 weeks at home (I also had one of theose icewater-pump bandages, and that helped a lot). I then began 90 min. of therapy 3 times a week and kept at it religiously at home. By May I was back on my bike and got about 1700 mi. in before ski season. I also got a custom Donjoy brace to prevent reinjury, not for leg strength. After the first run of the December 04 season I didn't notice the brace anymore, and after about 5 days I felt pretty confident, and a lot of my tentativeness was from missing a whole season. I went back to therapy in the fall of the year I had the surgery and did a lot of plyometrics and agility work. If your legs feel uneven that may help. And there's nothing better than cycling. BTW, I was 61 when I had my graft. One orthopod, a friend, told me that at my age I didn't really need an ACL! I told him I had just begun my career as a ski bum, so he referred me to a great surgeon.
post #19 of 19
Tore my left acl on 1/20/2004, no meniscus damage. Had a patella graft on 2/18, similar post rehab as evansilver. MY doc suggested I didn't need an acl eithr, but as another late life skibum I insisted.

Was back on my road bike in may after extensive rehab and got in 2300 miles by the end of october. Would have been back skiing in October, but had rotater cuff surgury and doc wouldn't let me ski till late February.

I have a custom Townsend brace and didn't notice it at all when skiing. Been doing lots of biking this summer as well as leg work in the gym, squats, leg presses and lots of hamstring work too.

You'll be just fine as long as you are serious about completing your rehab.

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