Coming back after knee surgery (Read 60 times)

delicate flower

    Hola.  Some of you know about my surgery coming up (and are probably tired of hearing about it), but for those who don't, I have five tears in my left knee that will require surgery next Tuesday (ACL "retear" and two meniscus tears will be surgerized, and partial tears of LCL and MCL plus bone bruising/micro fractures of the tibia will heal on their own).


    Having gone through ACL reconstruction once already, I'm all too familiar with the basic timetable to return to activities:  Biking at two months, light jogging at four months, graduate PT at six months, return to normal at 7-8 months.   I'm kind of wondering how long it'll take me to "get back" to where I was though with regards to my running.  I don't have years of running to draw back on, so I don't have all that running fitness built up.  I started running in Feb 2011.  I ran 1070 miles in 2011, and 2300 miles in 2012 with Nov-Dec being 55 mpw.  5K PR is 21:23 and marathon PR is 3:45.  My comfortable not-too fast, not-too-slow pace is around 8:45.


    I'm curious what you veteran runners think based on your knowledge and running experience, assuming I don't have any major setbacks with rehab.  Will I be starting again at square one?  Will my body remember how to run fast?  I know this is a major setback for me but I am trying to grasp just how big.  I know a 2013 marathon is out of the question, so I'm thinking maybe spring 2014 and certainly fall 2014.  My gut instinct is that I'll be back to full speed in early 2015, but I'm hoping it won't take quite that long.


    I've gotten over the self pity part of being injured and now I just want to plow through this. 


    Muchos thanks.


    an amazing likeness

      My experience is that there are two distinct dimensions to the recovery process...


      1. Muscle rebuild in the injured leg and rehab of repaired knee

      2. aerobic fitness => endurance = >speed


      They are somewhat interlocked, but #1 has to come first before you can make much progress on #2. Running speed comes last and it comes from being able to run easy miles with no issues of pain or recovery.


      (If you wan to browse through my log, you'll see some recoveries of a middle-aged jogger over the past three years...)

      I've done my best to live the right way. I get up every morning and go to work each day. (for now)

        Sadly, Baboon (nice handle, bro  Wink ), I have way too much experience with this.  As do you it seems.  I'll give you my very Reader's Digest timeline and be happy to answer any questions you have about my experience.


        January 2009:  ACL tear (gosh, it might be my "anniversary" today, now that I think about it)

        February 2009:  ACL reconstruction surgery

        Several months of sputtering on-off running.... I'd say it took me a full year to get back to where I felt like I was actually running "normally".

        October 2010:  Huge marathon PR.  Back and better than ever.   Ergo, > 1 year to "original" form, approx 1.5 years to top condition.

        Following this I had a huge year of PRs at many distances, but had a major setback and had knee surgery again in September 2011, this time mfx for bilateral cartilage defects in the lateral compartment of my ACL-repaired knee.

        March 2012:  After 6-month surgically imposed layoff started running again, only 2 miles a day at first.

        August 2012:  PR 3,000 meter.  So I consider that at this point I was probably back to top form.

        September 2012:  Great (not quite PR) marathon


        Then I've fallen off of somewhat of a cliff, but that's been due mostly to a fall of what was probably overtraining.


        Good luck to you.  Take a marathon runner's long-term patient view of things.  Be thankful for what you've been blessed with and try to stay focused on the positive so you don't go into a dark depression.  Not that I would know anything about that....

        - Joe

        We are fragile creatures on collision with our judgment day.


          I'm not a veteran runner, but I am a veteran to knee surgery. When was your first knee surgery? Mine were two years apart and the advancements in the surgery and recovery time were a remarkable difference. My last surgery was in the summer of 2009 so I'm sure more advancements have been made since then.


          As I'm sure your know the general rule that after your first surgery your knee strength is around 90-95% what it was and after the second 80-85%. ..But this is a general rule. Before I ever had knee surgery my knees hurt, and now they are doing great. And running has made that difference. But I also can't do certain things anymore, like comfortably jump/hop off things, like a rock higher than 1.5ft.


          I guess what I'm saying is I think your running will be fine. Obviously you are not going to run right away and your first run will not be where you left it off. But I think you'll find that you are not starting over again. Also I must say that respect the physical therapy no matter how boring and repetitive it is, because it works!


          Hope it all goes well with the surgery and recovery!

          delicate flower

            Thanks for the replies.


            MilkTruck:  That's my understanding as well.  Build muscle first, then build endurance, then start to introduce a little speed later on.  I'd like to do some races late this year but they certainly won't be at race speed or effort.


            joescott and Snowdenrun:   Sounds like my first tear was right around the same time as yours.  My first ACL tear was on 3/1/2009 and surgery was 5/5/2009 (Cinqo de Mayo!).  I didn't start to feel 100% normal again until the middle of 2010.  I was not a runner back then though so I don't really have a handle on what to expect as far as bouncing back with my running.  So, I appreciate the insight.  I was an avid cyclist back then (still am), and I was hammering again on the bike within 6-7 months.


            This tear was due to a ski accident.  Up until the crash, my "new" ACL never gave me a problem.  The way I fell, I probably would have torn the ligament even if it was the original.


            an amazing likeness

              Thanks for the replies.


              MilkTruck:  That's my understanding as well.  Build muscle first, then build endurance, then start to introduce a little speed later on.  I'd like to do some races late this year but they certainly won't be at race speed or effort.


              I re-read my post and it was pretty vague, unintentionally.  Specific to knee surgery, I had PCL damage, meniscus damage and microfx done in March 2010 and it took all of 2010 to get back to laying down base miles for 2011. In 2011 I was back to running fairly normal (for me), but it took all of 2011 for leg strength to equalize in the bad leg. In 2012 I was able to run normally (that is until a hamstring rupture in Dec).


              (and to be fair, a few months before the knee work, I had some pretty nasty other stuff which carried over through 2010..the knee was a minor sideshow, so some of the time in 2010 and 2011 was other things healing as well).

              I've done my best to live the right way. I get up every morning and go to work each day. (for now)


                It took me three mo. to jog, a year to run, and two years to get my speed back.

                A friend had the famous Dr. Andrews fix his knee and he came back much faster.

                Part of his recovery is because he had the very best doctor and part because of  the rehab program.

                The rehab program he used was the same one for a pro lineman. It was brutal but it worked.

                Google and see if you can find Dr Andrews rehab program.

                delicate flower

                  Thanks again for the comments.  I had my pre-surgery briefing today.  Turns out the damage isn't as bad as originally thought, but the ACL still needs to be replaced (allograft) and I have a significant medial meniscus tear.  Doc says since the meniscus can be fixed without trimming it, so I'm happy about that.  Swimming in three weeks, spin bike and elliptical in six weeks, running and biking in three months, skiing in nine months.  Doc says I'll make a full recovery and get back to 60 mile weeks.  All in all, great news today.



                    Congrats, baboon!  Swift and smooth recovery to you!


                    Running is stupid