Ben Cairns – ‘How quickly things in professional sport can change – ‘Getting back on track’
The rest of week four was tough, I was back in my den unable to do much at all except ice and the whole time I felt my knee was getting weaker again, as if all the work I had done to this point was for nothing and I was back to square one.
This, of course, was not the case. Although I was going backwards a little in terms of my knee’s strength and range, it would not take long for this to get back to where I was before the strain because of the work I had already done.
By week five my hamstring had recovered enough for me to start some rehab again. I had only missed four or five days training but it had felt like a lifetime. My Range of Movement (ROM) had gone from 116 degrees before the set back to 99 degrees.
Week five would be used to get me back on track. Initially my rehab went back to basics, heel slides, Vastus Medialis Obliquus (VMO) squeezes etc. I also started to cycle again, but this was only for five minutes at a time. I would still get the odd twinge from my hamstring so we really erred on the side of caution and gradually brought more exercises back in as I became more comfortable. This was also the case in the weights room. I made sure I lifted within myself so as not to put any undue pressure through my hamstring.
By the Wednesday things were progressing well, my range was back to 115 degrees and I had reintroduced some squat exercises into my rehab routine. I was a little frustrated that I hadn’t been able to get more range so, towards the end of the week, the physio began a clinical form of stretching called ‘Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation’ (PNF) to work into this, and it definitely made a difference.
The following week I started a new rehab program as well as increasing my cycling to fifteen minutes, dropping the seat every five minutes to work into the range. By the end of this week my range was up to 125 degrees actively and 129 degrees with me helping to pull my heel in. This was a significant jump in only a week, so I felt like I was making progress again and my motivation to keep improving was stronger than ever.
The start of week seven brought a key milestone. I went back to see the surgeon so he could see how I had progressed. It was all very positive. Although I was worried about my lack of range, he was happy. He felt that it was better for my knee joint to still be stiff than overly loose, as it would continue to ease as my rehab progressed. He was also unconcerned with my hamstring strain and said it may have just been some of the adhesions and scar tissue breaking off which can actually be a good thing. Finally, I had been experiencing some pain through my scar where they had taken the graft. Every time I started to contract my hamstring I would experience a very uncomfortable tightness under my scar. Again he wasn’t too concerned and again he put it down to the scar tissue.
We then discussed the plan going forward and, in a couple of months, I would start running. This would start as a jog before progressing the speed, all in a straight line, before introducing agility much further down the track. I found it amazing that I would be looking to start jogging around the four month mark but it would be a further five at least before I would be back in full training.
Before I could run my leg strength would be tested using an Isokinetic machine called a Biodex. This is a great piece of equipment. Not only did it measure my strength, it compared the right and left legs’ quadriceps and hamstrings. There were certain parameters that I would need to reach before I was given the go-ahead to start running, so this would be something I would work on over the next couple of months.
My range was now consistently over 120 degrees, even first thing in the morning, but this, along with my swelling, had hit a plateau. I wasn’t worried however as I was buoyed by the surgeon’s words. One thing that did concern me was my lack of strength through my hamstring. It was always going to be a lot weaker now due to the fact they had harvested a couple of my tendons for the graft but I was really struggling to even switch my hamstring on through the top range.
When prone I could get my heel to about 80 degrees ROM but as I tried to pull my heel closer to my bum I really struggled to recruit the right part of my hamstring. It wasn’t a fluid motion like on my left side. This would be something I would constantly have to work on, always conscious of the fine balance between doing enough to progress my hamstring strength without over doing it and causing another strain.
Feel free to get in touch and follow me at my twitter account
Until next time