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Post-surgery skiing and its frustrations

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
I need some advice/ suggestions from those who have been skiing after knee surgery.  I had arthroscopic surgery in September for a torn lateral meniscus. (Not a skiing injury...I got it pulling a guy who was pinned on rocks out of a tricky spot in the river). There is damage to the bone under the kneecap and that was also smoothed out during surgery. 

Last year I had some ACL issues which were (I think) resolved through PT.  I missed about 6 weeks of skiing but was able to finish the season back on skis.

This past weekend was my first time back on skis after surgery.  I was very tentative at first, but the second day I loosened up and did pretty well.  However, I noticed some stiffness in the knee joint and lo and behold, there was swelling above the knee.  I iced it and the next day the swelling had diminished somewhat.  No pain.

After an easy day, I skied again and was able to make my turns, yet felt somewhat tentative when tipping the left ski on its left edge (surgery was on my left knee).  Afterwards, I had pain and swelling indicative of a pulled muscle in my quadricep.  A visit to my ortho seemed to confirm that fact, and he said I need to get back to my original bicycle-racing fitness level (i.e. really strong quads) in order to get good use out of this knee.

So I'm back in PT for guided weight lifting and of course riding the indoor trainer.  My knee feels weird.  Perhaps a little unstable, I'm not sure.  I'm giving it some time before I get back on the skis again, but if I get the chance, I'll do some XC on my skate skis....that doesn't stress the joint...if I find a place with enough snow to do so!  

I have an extremely hard time resisting getting out there on the snow.  My doc has not banned me from skiing, but is stressing the conditioning. 

Any thoughts as to how I handle this?
post #2 of 5
I would suggest staying away from skiing for a while and I would also consider finding a proper strength coach instead of (or in addition to) your physiotherapist.  Or does your PT by chance have a CSCS designation in addition to being a therapist? Most physical therapists are not well-versed in training for sports performance.  They tend to know corrective exercises, but I suspect what you need is a combination of corrective exercise and performance exercise.  

Get strong - and not just the quads - and your knee will thank you.  I suspect it won't take that long to get to where you need to be if you train smart (and hard).  Something to consider - is your operated leg within about 5% as strong as the other?  If not, it should be.  That's a good test to see if you are ready to ski.

In addition to being a strength coach, I also have personal experience with this as I've missed the last 2 seasons with a hip injury and had hip surgery in January.  I got one day in at the local hill last week and felt great - hesitation on the first run but then quickly realized all was great.  I just got back from the weekend at Tremblant where I got to really test it out - and managed to ski bumps most of the weekend, with no trouble.  I am certain that a big part of that was that I was strong and balanced.  It really makes a huge difference.  

In my opinion if you are over 30 and/or have had a significant injury and you want to enjoy activities like skiing for the next 30+ years of your life, strength training should be considered a necessity of life, like sleeping and eating.  When we're in our 20s, we can get away with skiing to get in shape for skiing.  A few people can still get away with that as they age, but for most people, that results in injuries eventually.  

Good luck - as I said - shouldn't take too long.  Do things like foam rolling too - knee injuries are often accompanied by tight IT bands, quads, calves, and hamstrings.  Give them some work for a few minutes each day and your knee and quad will have less stress on them.

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the info!  I'm 43, so I do notice I lose strength more quickly.  As a former bicycle racer, I used to have very strong legs.  However, I can regain this strength very quickly because I've trained so long. My physical therapist was a strength training coach too, but I need to join a gym where I can get some guidance after PT is over.
post #4 of 5
Originally Posted by Twintip View Post

I'm 43

Now my knee hurts. Quit pulling my leg!
post #5 of 5
 I have to ask though, how good do you think that your boot fit is. I could see that being an issue here for good or bad.
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