Building up running
Week 14 to 18 after cruciate ligament surgery
Last time I had concluded with how the running went; not fantastic yet. Running was only possible without shoes and even then it was not completely pain-free. I then continued running this way for a while and so I managed to run longer and longer, faster and more time intervals. The "pain" (by now more of a no nice/uncomfortable feeling) remained somewhat constant and didn't necessarily diminish for my liking. In addition, the hiccup in my movement just stayed there. So it didn't necessarily seem to get better for myself, but on the other hand, I could run longer and longer and more. So there was definitely improvement. However, this almost imperceptible progress kept me thinking positively. It should really improve soon, you would think. Walking exercises with the walking ladder went surprisingly well. So it is actually quite strange to think that the short acceleration/deceleration and exercises with the running ladder are all painless, but the running itself is not. But don't panic yet. Have some patience and then there will probably come a time when I will think 'I didn't have any pain'.
3 months biodex test
Then it was time for my first intermediate strength test: the "3-month test. This first test consists only of the sub-maximal and endurance test. As expected, the right was much stronger than the left. At three months, the general goal is <30% strength difference. With quadriceps I'm still (well) above that, but hamstrings are already nicely below that. The result of the quadriceps is a bit flattered since I could not push full force yet due to some pain with that movement. For now, this is just a baseline measurement to see where I stand and what I need to pay extra attention to. In three months I will be tested again and the difference will (hopefully) be less.
Pain symptoms continue to alternate
After that, things slowed down physically for a while. It all started with a workout where I felt like I trained at the same intensity I'm used to. During the workout, I started to feel it a little bit in the back of my knee. However, that went away after training. Then the day after I had quite a bit of pain in the exact same spot and my whole knee felt a bit stiff (especially after sitting for a long time). In addition, I also had the idea that my kneecap was bothering me again (which I haven't been bothered by in a long time). Despite that, I went to town for a day the next day, which of course in retrospect was not such a smart idea. When I went to the physio a day later, my knee was examined anyway. It looked like there was some fluid in it after all, which also explains those kneecap problems a bit. So that meant taking it easy for a while; no running, no jumping jacks and just some easy strength training. After a week of easy training, it seemed to be fine again and I was able to pick up the heavier training again. Less than a week later, I had another pain. This time not my knee, but it shot into my back when I wanted to grab something off the ground at home. At first I didn't seem to be bothered by it, but about three days later it started hurting and I was bothered by everything. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad and after a week I was able to rebuild and train fully again.
In the meantime, running was still not going quite as hoped. So I had to start training some more fine motor skills, such as jumping rope on one leg. Of course, I immediately grabbed a jump rope and started practicing. The right leg went just fine, but when I wanted to jump on my left leg, I felt like I was barely getting off the ground. So there was a huge difference between the two legs. Big chance that this is a cause of not being able to run pain free. If jumping gets better, running will probably get better too. So from now on, jumping rope on one leg every workout to get my legs even.
So the first six weeks are already over. In the beginning it is all mega slow and you are very dependent on the people around you. But once you can do more again, the weeks go faster and it all gets a little more fun too. Now on to the next month!
Field hockey plays no role for me at the moment
As for field hockey, in one of the first blog posts I mentioned that I was hesitant to have surgery at all. At the time, I didn't quite see it in my mind to play field hockey again. That feeling remained there for quite a while after the surgery, but I did notice that it was diminishing and I was starting to get curious about playing field hockey again. It wasn't yet at the point where I would say "yes I want this again!", but I started thinking about it again.
Because I was injured so early in the season, I had to watch the remainder of the season from the sidelines, sometimes sitting on the bench. I only went to the home games, because the rehabilitation itself also takes a lot of time. What people often asked was whether I missed playing field hockey and whether I didn't find it difficult to watch the games. The answer to that was actually always "no. I didn't necessarily struggle with that during the season itself. I also never thought 'if only I had been there on the field'. That will partly have to do with the fact that you know you can't do that at all yet. But I think the main reason for me was that I noticed that I just didn't really feel the need to play field hockey. That is also exactly why my stick has been sitting untouched in the hallway at home for the past seven months (since I injured myself).
By now the season has ended and we finished second in the league which meant that we could play play play offs for promotion. During those games it started itching to play field hockey again. The tension in the game, all the spectators along the line and the fact that we were so close to promotion to the second level of the Netherlands, the promotion league. And what of course cannot remain unmentioned: the team feeling. Where you first train together three times a week for two hours, play matches, sit together in the locker room, all of that suddenly falls away. You only miss those little things when you don't have it.
After 5 months, it's starting to itch again anyway
So now, at about five months post-op, I'm starting to become more and more convinced that I want to play field hockey again. Quite the opposite as I was before and just after surgery. It's worth mentioning that even before the surgery, my physio was already convinced that I wanted to play field hockey again (despite the fact that I didn't want to play at that time, rather than want to). He was so convinced that he was willing to make a bet. I was a little skeptical about it at the time, but maybe he's going to be right after all! I have plenty of time to think about it, but maybe in a few months I will be back on the field doing my first training.