ACL Recovery Update: 6 months post-op

ACL recovery
Riding at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison one of my first days after returning to singletrack after 6 months of ACL recovery.

Every step of recovery is big. But, with improvement, each step takes longer and longer. After my knee surgery, improvements were fast with the first week. After a month, the straight leg brace came off and I was able to actually begin riding my trainer and improve my strength. At month three, I could ride my bike outside. And then after 6 months I can finally ride my bike on single track.

Mountain biking at Hartman Rocks after 6 months of ACL recovery.
Enjoying riding on one of the many dirt roads at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison a few days before I was able to ride singletrack again.

Of course, as I rest on each step of the healing process, I eagerly await the next. Monday was my 6 month mark, something I’d been looking forward to for three months. And even though I am incredibly stoked to have reached this point, I am looking forward to month 9 where I am fully cleared for all activities, including skiing. If you’ve done the math, then you realize that month 9 will be in mid-August which is typically one of the hardest months to ski in Colorado. Yes, it’s possible. But, rather than deal with sun cups, runnels and all the sketchiness of summer snow, I think I’ll just wait for the lifts to start spinning for the 2017-18 ski season. The way I see it, that’s another 5 or 6 months away. Again, another big step.

Mountain biking for ACL recovery.
A few of my recovery rides on roads ended in snow squalls. Here, I took this photo while it was snowing, although the snowflakes are hard to see.

If you have been following my recovery know it’s been a long road to this point – two surgeries, three months apart. And now I am 6 months past the more recent of the two. Add in the 3 more months I have until I am cleared for all activities and that makes this a year-long process…. the longest one I’ve had in my life so far. It’s surely been a lesson in patience.

Enjoying spring colors while mountain biking the wonderful singletrack at Hartman Rocks.
Enjoying spring colors while mountain biking the wonderful singletrack at Hartman Rocks.

In the last three months, my recovery has been more like training. I ride. I ride my bike as much as I can. I still go the gym to get on the elliptical and lift weights, but with improving weather and strength, that has become less necessary. I’ll be canceling my gym membership at the end of the month. I still do physical therapy exercises at home too – though their focus has shifted. Strengthening my leg is just a small part of my routine. I also work a lot on core and hip strength – and overall body strength – as well as agility. I incorporate a lot of plyometrics, pilates, and yoga movements as part of my routine.

Mountain biking for ACL recovery.
Pausing by a creek on the Rainbow Road north of Blue Mesa Reservoir.

I knew April would be a tough stretch because that’s typically a good time for backcountry skiing. During this time, snow usually becomes very stable and you can really get after it on some bigger lines which is what I love about backcountry skiing the most. To cope with the fact that I was missing the best part of the season, Frank and I did something we don’t normally do, and we may never do again – we went somewhere hot. Our time in Panama and Colombia was a blast, and was a perfect vacation to take my mind off of all the ski mountaineering I was missing.

Hiking to a beach in Panama after 5 months of ACL recovery.
The Buzzard trails just outside of Montrose are a great area for easy and fun riding for ACL recovery!
I love to explore and mountain biking has allowed me to quench this desire even though I can’t do it on skis. The Buzzard trails just outside of Montrose are a great area for easy and fun riding for ACL recovery!

Though my recovery has gone exceptionally well, the road has surely been full of ups and downs, tears of joy, and tears of pain… And by pain – I don’t mean the physical kind. Because honestly, when you’re an athlete, the physical pain of knee surgery isn’t anything compared to the mental anguish. Those days when I was still hobbling around in a straight leg brace having to shovel my car out of feet of fresh snow while all of my friends got to enjoy the goods – those were the toughest. Feeling disconnected from the ski world and my best friends, not being able to spend time outdoors doing the things I love to do and with the people I love – that was hard too. But injuries not only teach you about patience, they also teach you about strength. And I feel stronger than I ever have and I get stronger with each passing day.

Mountain biking at Hartman Rocks after 6 months of ACL Recovery.
So great to be back on singletrack!

This next stage of my recovery I will plan on continuing to grow even stronger. I have some goals that I have not yet announced – but stay tuned. I can tell you that I will still be incorporating various plyometrics, pilates, and yoga exercises into my recovery routine. Overall body strength is a big part of injury prevention, and I want to do everything possible to prevent future injuries.

Mountain biking in Salida after 6 months of ACL recovery.
Salida also has a great system of trails to work my way back in to riding singletrack.

So for now, stay tuned. It’s mostly back to normal for me. And I’m already well on my way to summer adventures!

Summary
Article Name
ACL Recovery Update: 6 months post-op
Description
After 6 months of ACL recovery I've learned a lot of lessons about patience and strength. But, my recovery is far from over....
Author

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things, Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate :) Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

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