So, let’s take you right back to the start, January 2011, skiing happily in the Alps, then all of a sudden, POP. I know there’s something seriously not right. The most agonizing pain I have ever felt is shooting through my knee, and it’s swelling up so fast I can feel and see it happening. I knew from the feeling that this was ligament damage (unfortunately I know from previous experiences), but being the active guy I am, I decided to brush it aside thinking that rest will make it better (I should probably have known better than this, but when a serious injury occurs, the first reaction is usually denial and the need to get on with stuff). First lesson – get injuries checked out if you fear the worst!
Fast forward 5 months and not one step has passed without a limp and shit loads of pain (although I kept going with my 5/3/1 programme which includes squatting and dead lifting up to 95% of 1RM – we at Dave’s Gym are true warriors!). Surely time now to see a specialist?! An MRI scan later and it was confirmed that I had indeed ruptured my MCL (Medial Collateral Ligament) and PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) and would require an operation. I stress, hearing these words should NOT be an excuse for you to stop training, thinking there’s no point until after the surgery. Put in the hard work now and you’ll reap the benefits post operation. I trained hard up until two days before the operation! I changed the dead lifts to rack pulls and kept squatting to parallel on a lighter weight.
Three times the amount of morphine that was planned to be given (my body went in to shock during the operation), 4 nice looking scars and half a new MCL hooked on by two bolts in me knee later and I wake up very dazed, and my mind turned straight to training. I bombarded the surgeon with questions about when I’ll be back on my feet, and therefore when will I run and when can I play football again. We were looking at 5-6 months until I could kick a ball again. This would mean I would not be able to play in the Aberystwyth Football Sevens in May, which was my aim. Gutted!
6 weeks later and I’m squatting again at 70% of my 1RM. 8 weeks, I start running again in a straight line. 10 weeks later and I’m squatting and dead lifting up to 95% of my newly tested 1RM’s and doing sprints and SAQ (Speed, Agility and Quickness) training in the park. After 12 weeks (3 months!!), my personal breakthrough of kicking a football again is achieved and with the permission of the surprised surgeon and physio, after 14 weeks, I was back on the football pitch! It had taken half the time originally planned to recover!
This just goes to show that the body responds well to being pushed. I recovered well in advance of the 5-6 months originally quoted. This is without doubt due to the fact I kept myself active, whilst doing plenty of strengthening work on the injured knee before even going in for the operation. Too many people think that an injury means NO exercise until it’s totally fixed, but that is not always true – exercise will help speed up the recovery time. Strengthen the areas around the injury now and after the operation these muscles/joints will be much better prepared for the rehabilitation programme post op.
(Please note: this is not true for all injuries and if you are strongly advised by a specialist not to train prior to an operation, please listen to his/her advice!)
When I heard that I needed an operation, I could have just given up training, thinking there wasn’t a point until after the operation and have a lazy few weeks. If I would have taken this attitude, I would still be seeing a physio every week doing boring exercises on a BOSU ball….instead, I’m playing football once a week and enjoying training as hard as I can in the gym again – and back on the beloved 5/3/1 programme.
Rhodri ‘Ruud van Nistelrooy’ Williams