Week 17, ACL Recovery

Cue Pomp and Circumstance and don your cap and gown.  I have graduated from physical therapy.

I got the word from my PT:  yesterday’s appointment was on the very last of the 90 days allowed by my insurance company without another prescription from a doctor.    Which is okay, really, because I seem to be doing very well.   I’d already cut back to PT appointments to every 3 weeks, so I’ve been pretty much on my own anyhow.  And my PT seems very pleased with my progress.  Just to prove to me how well I’m doing, she took me into the squash courts at the gym and first had me run forwards and backwards, then in an “S” pattern, and then in a zig-zag pattern, cutting one way and then the other.   It wasn’t all out, but I was out of breath afterwards.  And guess what?  No bouncing bones!  Five months ago, I would have been down on the ground after one cut.

Back to Karate

Now does this mean I’m all healed and can begin practicing karate again full tilt?  Absolutely not.   My flexion is still not as natural as my other leg.  I still have a teensy bit of swelling.  And the muscles around my knee have not fully healed just yet.  

But . . . I have strapped on my big post-op brace and gone to karate a few times over the last few weeks.   A couple of our black belt instructors had been encouraging me to come and help out with lower belts.   Starting as low as green belt, we are asked to show white belts new techniques as part of our own training.   There’s nothing like teaching to bring some aspects of karate into new focus, so I was very happy about the idea.  Plus, I’ve started learning the hand parts of two new katas. 

Mind you, I’m not using my legs.  No kicks, no pivots, no pushing off, and no stance work.  (Well, maybe just a few easy-paced front kicks and some slow, high movement.  But no pivots, and nothing strenuous or fast!)   I am starting to suspect that I could do some of those things.  But, honestly, I’m not mentally ready for it, I’m probably still very vulnerable because of the weak muscles, and I see no reason to rush ahead just yet.   I’m helping a little and learning a little, and that’s actually really cool right now.

Week 17 Benchmarks

Exercises (all prescribed by my Phyiscal Therapists)

  • Warm-up: Stationary bike, or Elliptical, or Step Machine for 10 minutes
  • Aerobics.  Running, 1/2 mile.  Swimming, 1/2 mile.  And now some cutting drills :-)
  • Weight machines: Abductor, Adductor, Single Leg Press all at about 120lbs. Hamstring curls still at justt 17.5 lbs.  Each about 2 sets of 10-15 reps.
  • Balance board and TheraBand pad exercises, as before.
  • Lunges on the squishy half-circle Bosu ball, about 25 each leg, holding 10-lb. weights in each hand.  Side lunges onto the Bosu that go into a horse stance, also with 10-lb. weights.
  • Hopping with both feet onto a step and then hopping off to the other side and rotating 180 degrees in the air.   Trying to stay light on my feet.
  • Stretches!


  • Full flexion when warm.  I can now start off my flexion stretch by reaching around with my hand instead of using a rope.

Walking/Navigating Stairs

  • Back to my old ascending two steps at a time, when feeling good.


  • Negligible swelling.  However, I do notice that my injured leg shows a sock mark after extended wear, where my good leg does not.  Very weird.  


  • Still trying to do some kata in my head every day.
  • Still using flash cards to keep sharp on techniques. 
  • Practicing hand movements for our all our Niage (Naihanchi/Tekki) katas, and began learning part of two-person kata form (hands only) that I’ll need to know for black belt.
  • Prompted by an e-mail from a long-time black belt in Tang Soo Do who recently tore his ACL,   I’ve been doing some research on the various Kwans that were formed into Tang Soo Do and tracing their roots and much of their kata back to China and Japan.   Nothing new to the world, just new to me.  Always good to know where you come from.

5 Responses

  1. Fantastic report!

    I am glad to hear you are back on the dojo floor. What a great opportunity to start training again while helping out the lower belts. When I started back I did the same thing …. no legs, no pivots and absolutely no kicking until six months.

    In regards to hamstring curls… all I can say is Ugh. I can only curl 30 pounds. I do extra sets at the gym and I have not increased my weight in months.

  2. Congratulations–it sounds like you are doing great!

  3. Congrats on getting back into the dojo! It sounds like you’ve recovered quite nicely and are doing well. :)

  4. Congratulations on graduating from PT!

    After 17 weeks, I’m sure you’re right that your muscles need more rebuilding. But after that, as you mentioned, there’s the mental readiness, and that can take even longer. But you’re so focused, I’m sure you’ll do it.

  5. Thanks, everyone. Keeping fingers crossed that things will continue to go well.

    Michele, to me 30 pounds sounds pretty dang impressive, right now.

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