Originally Posted by mmckimson
As the others have said your input is great, and certainly makes me feel better...
Given that you've been through the process, how long did it take you to gain back full strength in the injured leg? I'm now 10 weeks out from the surgery and for the most part feel pretty good, but the overall strength of the leg needs work, as well of course gaining those last few degrees of motion.
Your suggestion on balancing is a good one. My PT has given me a series of balancing exercises to do and they seem to help. In fact, when I show them to my non-injured friends, they often struggle with them.
I guess my regimen must be doing something!
I had an allograft so if you had an autograft then take this with a grain of salt as results may vary. I got to essentially full flexion/extension range of motion by around 12-14 weeks post-op. The last 5 degrees of flexion (i.e. stand on one leg, head up, grab foot and pull it all the way back to touch buttocks) were the slowest to come back and perhaps the most uncomfortable. In fact, even now, while I can easily do it at one year, those last couple of degrees of flexion are slightly uncomfortable and I have to let my knee extend back out a little slower than the normal leg. I found the most helpful way to get that last few degrees of flexion during rehab was something that I devised and that my PT now tells her clients to do. I sat on the shallow step of our swimming pool so that I was facing the edge of the pool immersed up to my waist. I would put my foot flat on the step with my toes mushed against the side of the wall of the pool, then slowly slide my butt closer to my foot---kinda like the heel slides that they make you do on the massage table at PT, but instead of pulling your foot towards you, you're using your body to push
towards your foot (hope that makes sense). I got much more flexion back quickly doing that.
As far as strength is concerned, I was also doing the same exercises with my good leg as with the operated leg during PT, so it kept strengthening as well, thus my op leg kept having to catch up. Subjectively, the op leg was within 10% of the non-op leg by the end of the 5th month. Before they released me to resume play/ski they gave me a sort of final exam. They made me sit on a special machine that looks like a quad extension machine at the gym, but the swing arm is hooked up to a computer that measures torque and velocity. They set up my non-op leg first, then when they said "go" I had to flex / extend my leg absolutely as hard and fast as I could for 30 seconds. They did that at three different resistance settings. Then they put my op leg into the machine and I had to do the same thing. They then compared the two sides for torque and maximum velocity. They told me later that they expect the average person to score 70% in comparison to the non-op side, high school athletes 80% and elite professional athletes 90% before they're released to resume sports. (I scored 89%!!!) So, even though I FELT at that point (end of the sixth month of rehab) that my two legs were the same, clearly they weren't. I think the actual point where they were back to equal wasn't until 8-9 months post-op, but by the end of the 6th month it was close enough that I didn't really notice it anymore.
I guess the hardest part mentally is that it's imperative to keep up the exercises after they release you---you can't rest on your laurels. Obviously the best way to get in shape for skiing is to ski, but that still is not a substitute for maintaining your fitness level that you will attain with all the hard rehab work. The core exercises and balance/instability exercises are quite difficult to master---they seem easy to me now and yet when I demonstrate them to friends, they too have a difficult time with them as well, so I agree, it's obviously doing a LOT of something good! I really fell like I'm in the best physical shape I've ever been in and I'm 48!