Week 4, ACL Recovery

Sore muscles.  After 2 1/2 months of pains and aches only around my injured joint, I have sore muscles in my legs.  Dang, but it’s a wonderful feeling!

The reason,  of course, is PT.  I’ve had weight machines added to my exercises and am getting the chance to work muscles that have been out of commission since my injury as well as a few that I never really worked before (karate doesn’t work your leg adduction much, for instance).   It’s not a lot of weight, mind you.  In fact, it’s an embarrrasingly little amount of weight.  I find myself looking furtively over my shoulder as I sit down at each new machine and adjust the load, invariably downwards, sometimes by as much as 100 pounds.   I have to laugh at myself for feeling this way and for entertaining such silly notions as limping the first few steps from each machine just to make sure everyone knows I’ve got a bum limb and that I’m not really a weights wimp.   I’ve never been much into weight training, but the benefits here are obvious.   I can see how some extra strength and toning work could be very helpful to my karate, so I may try to make it part of my regular routine, whenever it becomes regular again.

Beyond the return of sore muscles, the past couple of weeks have been good.   The knee still feels very tight almost all the time.   But I think that’s mostly that I’m always judging it at the edge of its limits, which are constantly being pushed further out.  (Reminds me of how I often perceive my own progress in karate, during those periods when it seems like I’m going nowhere.) 

My only worry is that ‘bursitis’ afflicting Pacino’s right eye.   I’m not certain it really is a bursitis at this point.  But whatever it is, it sure is taking its sweet time going down and will sometimes even puff up a bit after the weight training.   When it does, it can feel like there’s something stuffed in the front of the joint below the patella.  I don’t like that feeling, but it doesn’t really hurt and seems to go away after a bit.   I’ve got another post-op with the surgeon next week.   I’m hoping it won’t be an issue by then,  but in the meantime, it’s ice, ice, ice.

Week 4 Benchmarks


  • Weight machines: Abductor, Adductor, Leg Press all at about 50lbs (yeehaw) and Hamstring curls at 2.5lbs.  Each about 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
  • One leg balance on mini-Tramp with ball toss (I go into a zone on this one :) )
  • Leg raises (slow descent), 3 sets of 15, 1 times per day; added 2lb weight on day 24.
  • Still doing most of the exercises from Week 2.


  • 130 degrees flexion on day 31.

Walking/Navigating Stairs

  • Brace only when carrying heavy items or walking on uneven ground.
  • Ascending stairs one step at a time, starting day 14 but getting comfortable around day 21.
  • Descending stairs one step at a time, slowly and only after warming up, days 24-31.


  • Depending on the time of day, there’s a .5 cm to 1 cm difference between my two knees, except where the ‘bursitis’ is.
  • R.I.C.E. – still elevating when sleeping and using an ace bandage for compression.  I’ve cut down on the number of full icings but have been rubbing the ‘bursitis’ area with a piece of ice (typically frozen in a Dixie cup) for five minutes every hour or two.

6 Responses

  1. Wow…130 degrees flexion at four weeks. Fantastic!

    In addition to karate and my daily knee exercises, I started weight training three days a week. It is now part of my regular routine. Joining a gym is one of the changes that I have made as a result of my ACL injury.

  2. hey-
    I found your blog while surfing the web for high demand sport activites after/during ACL recovery. I’m a trapeze artist and I wrote a lot about my surgery.

    I hope everything’s going well and that recovery is continuing to go smoothly for you.

  3. Sarah,

    Wow! A professional trapeze artist. That’s cool. My sister’s taken fabric classes (I thought “sewing?” when I first heard) and is pretty good on stilts. (She plays the accordion, too. What’s not to like?) And two of my friends trained as trapeze artists at a facility outside of Columbus, GA, in the mid-80s. They both joined the military instead of staying in your industry, but either choice seems a bit crazy, if you ask me.

    So? How did you injure your ACL? I couldn’t find that on your blog.

    And last, who taught you the Russian for “I love you”? Vee govoreetye porooskee?

    K sozhelenayooo – Good luck (I think)


  4. Hi there. I too am in karate and tore my ACL when landing from a jump, turn sidekick. I had surgery on June 2, 2008 and begin my PT June 17th. I can only bend my knee about 45 degrees. It’s so very frustrating. I still have swelling and pain, but am hobbling around without my crutches. I am able to go up a flight of stairs with a little bit of tightness. I just want my range of motion back so I can get back to karate. I work at a garden center year round, so I’m going to miss 3 weeks of work. Some days I wish I wasn’t so active. Oh well, best wishes to you and I’ll keep you updated if you’d like.

  5. I just had ACL surgery on June 18th. I am recovering well I think. I am having such tightness when I try to bend my knee. I start therapy tomorrow. What should I expect?

  6. Hi. I just had ACL reconstruction for the second time on the same knee. My surgery was on June 4, 2008. I am still walking with a brace. Does anyone else feel pain in the back of their knee?
    Wish everyone a speedy recovery! Keep up with physical therepy exercises, they do make a differance!

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