Return to action by Lisa Powell
In late January of this year, I tore my ACL & Meniscus, playing soccer. Its devastating for an athlete to go from competing in Mountain & Road Races to not even being able to walk or bend the knee.
Surgery required a reconstruction of the ACL with a graft from the hamstring. The meniscus was also torn & shredded. The doctor had to trim the meniscus & put it back in place.
Post-Surgery rehabilitation was painful and long. The first week, the physical therapist worked on “turning on” the quad muscle to reduce swelling. I was given many exercises to do at home, twice a day. I did these exercises religiously.
Returning to sport us a road of small victories. Three weeks post-op, I was able to get on an indoor bike trainer. Each revolution was painful, but it was important to get the motion & blood-flow to the injured knee. I made a goal to do this 5 times a week for at least 30 minutes as well as my conditioning exercises for the knee.
Eight weeks post-op, I returned to my road bike and clipped in. I had to be careful not to fall and injure the knee. I rode many solo miles and was filled with gratitude to be back on the road. Each ride was a gift! I lost a lot of strength and endurance. My first climb on the road bike since surgery, felt like a mountain. When it was hard and I wanted to give up, I would tell myself “just keep pedaling”.
I trained for months with consistent effort. I spent a lot of time climbing hills and putting in miles. Although my speed was nowhere what it was before surgery, I would not allow myself to become discouraged. My ohysica therapy also included squats, deadlifts, hip thrusters and more.
I slowly built up strength and endurance.
Today, five months after surgery, I am back to feeling myself. I visited my brothers home in Marin County, California. I was able to climb Mt. Tam, a couple times. I am also back to riding with friends and keeping up on the climbs and sprints.
I am excited to get back into racing. In fact, I will be in a mountain bike race this fall. I also see some road races in my near future.
Injury is never expected, and sometimes unavoidable. Never let an injury stop you from achieving your goals. You may have to change those goals but it’s all about improving yourself and getting better. I have so much gratitude for my body and its ability to heal so that I can continue to do the things that I love.
I encourage anyone starting cycling, recovering from injury or just returning to the sport, to never give up. There will always be times when it’s hard, just keep pedaling through those times. Eventually, you will get to the top of that mountain, you will see yourself get stronger and you will accomplish your goals.