I am back in physical therapy this week, which is such a relief after missing a week because I had to wait for insurance authorization. To date, I am a little more than 10 weeks past my surgery. My therapist told me that at about this time after surgery, the ACL graft is stronger and there is more blood flow and circulation to the area. This means that I can now start doing open-chain exercises in addition to the closed-chain exercises I am already doing. Currently, the closed kinetic chain exercises I am doing in physical therapy require that I always have my foot planted on a firm surface (leg press), however, now that I am okay to do open chain kinetic exercises, my leg is free to move and my knee is bending (leg extension). This is a big improvement for me because now I can work out my quad muscles more.
My first and only open kinetic exercise I did today was the leg extension with 5lbs of free weight. It was tough, but I was able to complete my 5 sets of 10 reps. In addition to the leg extension exercise, I also did two different lunges. I did full walking lunges (still without any weight) and I also did stationary lunges with my front leg on an inflated disk. That one was a challenge.
Next week will be a very big week for me in physical therapy. On Thursday, I am going to get hooked up to the biodex machine to test the strength of my right leg compared to my left leg. The Biodex machine is an isolated joint isokinetic system used for neuromuscular evaluation and therapeutic exercise to measure the amount of strength produced at different velocities. The machine will conduct this test by measuring the strength I produce in a series of hamstring curls and leg extensions. I will first have my left leg tested as a base measure, and then my right leg will be tested. The therapist told me that he is hoping I will test in the 70 percent range fore strength, which would be a good measure because that would indicate that I have regained about 70 percent of my strength back in my right leg. This test is critical because depending on how I do will determine if I can start with agility and jumping exercises, and eventually running. If I do really well on this test, I may be jogging in about a month. I really hope that I will be back to running soon, but I am not going to push it. Also, my knee is continuing to “pop,” which has me slightly concerned, but it isn’t painful yet, so I am hoping that this is just temporary.
Before I ran my first marathon in 2008, I did not incorporate lifting weights into my training routine; I was a running-only kind of gal. After crossing the finish line in more pain than I imagined possibly, I knew two things. First, I would have to step up my training (missing my longest run and being sick half way around the world three weeks before race dad didn’t help) and secondly, I needed to add in some resistance and strength training into my routine.
For the longest time before I started lifting weight, my husband urged me to start. He kept telling me that lifting weights would improve my muscular strength and endurance for running. I wish I had listened to him sooner because a couple months after I started lifting, I saw a dramatic improvement in my running. I had gained much needed muscular endurance, and I also noticed that I was not nearly as sore after longer runs.
Here was my first ever lower-body lifting routine:
- Squats, 3 sets of 15 reps
- Walking lunges, up and down the length of the basketball court three times
- Dead lifts, 3 sets of 15 reps
- Leg press, 3 sets of 15 reps
- Leg extension, 3 sets of 15 reps
- Hamstring curl, 3 sets of 15 reps
- Adductor machine, 3 sets of 15 reps
- Abductor machines, 3 sets of 15 reps
- Calf raises, 3 sets of 15 reps
Combined with running, this routine made my legs stronger. I noticed that with every stride I had more power. After I incorporated weight training and more focused running (making sure to include a long run, tempo run, and speed drill in every week of training), I saw drastic improvements in my PRs.
In the near future, I will post two more workout routines, my upper-body routine and my core routine.
I hit the mother lode!
Every few months I go around to local thrift stores looking for books for my classroom library. While I still am an “unemployed teacher,” I am confident that I will find a job for the upcoming school year. I want to make sure that my classroom library is filled with a diverse range of books for my students to read. On a whim, I decided to go shopping today for used books and I struck gold. I went to three different stores in my area and spent less than $30. I consider today my most lucrative book shopping trip to date. The first two books are just fun books that kids love looking at.
Here is what I bought:
- Scholastic Atlas of the World
- Guinness World Records 2004
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling
- The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien
- The Diary of a Young Girl, Anne Frank
- The Giver, Lois Lowry
- Angels and Demons, Dan Brown
- White Fang, Jack London
- Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
- Not Anything, Carmen Rodrigues
- Someone like You, Sarah Dessen
- The Boxcar Children #6
- Lord of the Flies, William Golding
- The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis
- The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis
- The Magician’s Nephew, C.S. Lewis
- The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis
The Entire Box Set of the Chronicles of Narnia
And 15 various Goosebumps Books!
Right now I am feeling especially grateful that I have access to a gym because there is a hold up for my new order of physical therapy visits, which means I am not going to physical therapy this week. Luckily, a while back I purchased ankle weights to help facilitate my rehabilitation and I can do almost all of my exercises from therapy at the gym.
Today was an especially great day at the gym. I felt the strongest today that I have since surgery. This week marks the ninth week out of surgery for me. I am almost to that crucial 12 week mark where I will be able to do so much more in therapy. At therapy last week, I got the go ahead to increase my weight resistance on closed-chain exercises (exercises where my feet are firmly planted on the ground) and I increased my weight resistance on the leg press machine. I did 50lbs on just my right leg and 100lbs for both. I hope to keep steadily increasing my weight for this exercise.
Not only did I feel strong today, but I felt better; my knee felt more normal. It is difficult to explain if you haven’t had knee surgery before, but my knee didn’t feel stiff or odd at all. After knee surgery, your knee feels kind of odd for a while; it feels like it isn’t really apart of your body. Even though I know I can’t just yet, today was the first day where I actually felt like I could run. This is a huge sign of progress in my rehabilitation and I am more confident than ever that I will make a full recovery from this knee surgery. Even more exciting is that I am actively able to strengthen my knee now with only minor pain right below my patella. Before, I was still missing a few degrees in my extension. Each and every single day I am getting stronger and I know that with each passing week I am getting stronger and more capable. However, with my increased strength, I also noticed a new thing with my knee. As my range of motion increases, my knee pops. It is a small pop that feels like a great release of pressure, but I have never experienced this type of popping sensation before with any of my prior knee surgeries.
It is hard to believe that my surgery was only two months ago. It seems like so much more time has passed since I have my revision ACL reconstruction and meniscus removal surgery. In that time, I’ve gone from not putting any weight on my right leg to doing one-legged squats and one-legged wall sits on my right leg. Our bodies and their amazing healing powers are truly amazing.
Earlier in the week I noticed that my contacts were not feeling that great once I put them in my eyes. I thought that my current pair was just a little bit too old and I replaced them with a new pair. This worked, for about two days. On Wednesday of this week, I noticed that once again my contacts were really bothering me, but Zac and I were in Huntington Beach for the day and I had to suck it up. The minute we got home I raced to the bathroom and peeled the contact lenses from my eyes. Right away I experienced a burning sensation.
Now, here is the thing, I have had an eye infection before (although my previous one was a really bad one that started with a scratched cornea…ouch) and didn’t think anything of it. I just figured that since I’ve been working a lot on my literature review that my eyes needed a break from the computer. So, I relaxed and enjoyed the rest of the evening with Zac.
I woke up on Thursday morning ready to get my butt in the gym. I drank my 8 ounces of V8 Fusion Light juice, drank some water, got dressed, brushed my teeth and attempted to put my contacts in. I put the left one in first, and while it didn’t feel great, it wasn’t horrible. Then, I put in the right contact and they very second it was in I had to take it out because the pain was intolerable. Immediately I knew I had an eye infection so I made an appointment with the eye doctor (and of course it wasn’t covered by insurance because it is medical and for it to be covered by insurance I would have to first make an appointment with my primary physician and then get a referral. Yeah, that was not going to happen.) I went in mid day and sure enough I have an eye infection. Apparently, it is highly contagious and it is running rampant around my area. In fact, the eye doctor had already seen quite a few similar viral eye infections earlier that day.
So, I have spiffy eye drops I am using four times daily and I am wearing my old glasses for a week. My glasses prescription is so old that when I covered my right eye, the large E in the office was blurry…wearing my glasses. I haven’t had my lenses replaces since college and it is amazing how much your eyes can change in four years.
The only good news out of this whole eye infection ordeal is that at my follow up appointment on Wednesday, if my infection has cleared, the doctor is going to determine if I am a candidate for LASIK eye surgery to correct my horrible vision.
I have reached the eight week mark after my revision ACL reconstruction surgery and I am feeling great! I am walking around easier, my leg is feeling stronger, and the swelling continues to slowly go away. Despite all of this good news however, I still need to be extremely cautious with my movements because I am at a time right now because my ACL graft is rather weak.
Physical therapy is also going great. I continue to go three days a week and I had an especially successful visit this past Monday. I added in new exercises, including: half-lunges, one legged wall sits, and the stair stepper! The fact that my physical therapist is adding in new and difficult exercises is proof that I m continuing to do much better as time progresses.