When the Boss Needs Rehab…
I wish I had a better story for you but I actually tore my meniscus while cooking. Yes, you read that right, cooking. About 6 months ago I was making homemade sauce (yes, tomato sauce doesn’t, and shouldn’t, come out of a jar with the words Prego written on the label, LOL). I was making a sauce and pivoted to the left from the stove to the kitchen counter. When my left foot hit the ground it slipped forward which created a significant amount of valgus (inward) force on my right knee. I did not fall (or spill the sauce!!) but I did hear an audible “pop” in my right knee.
At this time, I still had full range of motion and 0/10 pain with my activities of daily living; walking, stairs, etc.. The only activities that caused an increase in my right medial knee pain were lateral lunges to the left (MCL Sprain), jumping and running. I was still able to teach Forge and Unlock 3-4x/week with a few exercise modifications. After about 8 weeks of physical therapy I was now able to perform lunges in all planes of motion and bilateral plyometrics. I was even able to run pain free on the Alter G at 80% bodyweight but I was still unable to run outdoors.
At the start of 2021, I was still teaching weekly virtual classes/week, riding the spin bike and, essentially, functioning pain free on a daily basis. Since there were no races in sight to either train for or coach I was in no rush to get back to running. That was true until I went for an easy 10′ run on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in April. Unfortunately, those 10 minutes of pain free running left me in pain with increased swelling, decreased range of motion, and a loss of function.
At this point, it was time to confirm my diagnosis of a torn medial meniscus so I contacted Dr. James Gladstone at Mount Sinai Hospital for a consultation. He quickly agreed on the diagnosis and suggested I schedule an MRI to confirm the severity. The MRI revealed a significant radial tear of my medial meniscus, and after further discussion with Dr. Gladstone, we scheduled surgery for the following week.
The surgery went as well as could be expected.
Unfortunately, the meniscus was unable to be repaired so Dr. Gladstone performed a meniscectomy. It was actually my first surgery of any kind so the experience was extremely enlightening. It was very interesting to be on the other side of the so-called table. I honestly don’t remember anything from the actual surgery. The last thing I recall is the anesthesiologist asking me what music I wanted to listen to (I replied Tom Petty of course) and the next thing I knew was waking up in the recovery room like nothing ever happened.
I left the surgical center (thanks Ryan for being a great escort), hopped in an Uber and headed home to start the rehab process. Typically after a surgery like mine, your main priorities are focused on wound care, pain management and following your surgeons post op instructions in regards to weight bearing status, range of motion, etc… When I arrived home, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to get out of the car and walk into my house without any pain or having to use the axillary crutches that were provided.
Let the fun begin…
The first three days of rehab were primarily focused on minimizing any post op swelling and restoring the range of motion in my right knee, specifically extension. The Normatec compression sleeves are one of the best tools to help improve (increase) circulation which is critical to minimizing pain and maximizing range of motion (much better than ice, in my opinion, which is primarily utilized to decrease circulation). I implemented the compression sleeves on day 1 and used them 2-3x/day for about 1-2 hours/session (and that’s probably a gross understatement). With my pain and swelling significantly under control, I was able to incorporate the following bilateral isometrics, co-contractions and respiratory exercises into my “Day 1” rehab program.
- Compression Sleeves
- 90 90 Hip Lift
- 90 90 Hip Lift with ankle pump
- 90 90 Bridge
- Compression Sleeves
- Bilateral and unilateral isometrics and co-contractions
- Heels Elevated (HE) ISO Squat –> HE squat
- Stair training; upstairs, downstairs, step ups etc..
- Compression Sleeves
- Unilateral isometrics and co-contractions at varying angles
- Hinge squat in neural and RXX/LXX
- Stair training (as above)
Week 2 rehab brought in some more dynamic exercises while focusing on balance and stability on my right leg.
🔹 All 4 belly lift walk out
🔹 Lateral hip shift with forward reach
🔹 Unilateral sit to stand
🔹 Front foot elevated split squat (heal strike to mid stance)
🔹 Front foot elevated split squat (mid stance to toe off)
🔹 Bike (sit to stand)
🔹 Split stance to forward step
🔹 Unilateral wall hops
“Two weeks post op and I feel like I can run, BUT I won’t. There is a big difference between feeling and healing.
Respect the process and your body!!! My short term goal is to be able to run for the long term.
(I’m also afraid of my orthopedic surgeon @jamesgladstonemd 😀)