T Nation

Injury Tips Please!!!!!

Hello everyone. After perusing your posts for the last week or so I’ve decided that most of you are educated and experienced enough to possibly help me out. I had a really traumatic injury to my left knee in early November. I wasn’t able to get an MRI until earlier this month which depicted a complete tear of the ACL and a verticle tear of the lateral meniscus. The Doctor told me that I wouldn’t be able to walk around as good as I do now if it weren’t for developed quads and supporting musculature. (which atrophy’s more and more every day). Unfortunately, there will be no quick and easy fix to this injury. I don’t have a surgery date set yet, but it looks like mid to late March before I can even have this injury repaired. I’ve done a little research on recovery time after these sorts of procedures and it seems like I’ll be laid up for up to 8 months even with physical therapy! I’m gaining weight (not in a good way), I’m feeling weak, and above all else, I FEEL injured and depressed. Having the right attitude in the gym, as we all know, is just as vital as nutrition and supplements and I just don’t have that Warrior mentality right now. I’m pissed about that. I’ve suffered injuries, delays, and other hang ups before but this one takes the cake. The common reply is “Well just work upper body and do low impact cardio” I’ve heard that more than I care to count. But when you’re carrying around a 45lb plate to throw onto a bar and your knee wobbles out of wack it tends to get to you. I can’t concentrate on the lift I’m about to do because I’m tip-toeing around trying not to hurt me knee further. I know to a lot of people, especially those who have not ever had an injury like this, I sound like a pussy. I’ve swallowed my pride enough to get over that fact and lay my problem out to you, the t-men and vixens, and see what kind of advice you can provide. Dealing with this and overcoming this on my own has been attempted, but it’s not working. So, if anyone has any advice on training with this sort of problem, or has a success story on how they pushed through this sort of mental block, I would appreciate it more than I can express.
Thanks in advance,

Maybe you should think about going over to the machines. The machines are not as effective as free weights, but that is only relatively speaking. They can help you to maintain while you are recovering from your injury. The only thing I would say is that if you do isolates on your good leg, be careful about how much weight you use. A friend of mine ripped a quad muscle going too heavy. Sorry for your injury. I know that is a major frustration.

Welcome to the forum, bro. Am sure sorry to her about your knee. Man, most don’t have a clue how fun an injury like that is. I broke both bones in my lower leg playing a pickup football game. Had a plate and 10 screws put in my leg. Crutches for 3 months, pain for 8 months, didn’t regain full motion and strength in my ankle for 1 yr or more. Not making light of your plight at all. Just saying I sympathize. The only advice I can give is to make the best of a bad situation (train what you can, get a hobby?). At least you will heal with time, others are confined to a wheelchair or worse.

I lost about 2.5 inches in my thigh. but got most of the strength back in 2 months, size came back in 6 months or so. You can do it, a T-Man survives. God Bless. -Lowell Wayne


Sorry to hear about your knee problem. Have you tried to exercise using machines rather than the free weight (cuz that's what you made it sound like). But remember, you only have one set of knees, so you should try to make them good before doing anything else. I also have some knee pain, but I'm fortunate that mine's not as serious as yours.

Hang in there.

Was I dreaming, or did I recently read that people with an injured leg were able to rebound faster, when the uninjured leg was continued to be trained (unilaterally… one legged extensions, etc) during the healing phase? Something to look into…

I tore my ACL, MCL, and the cartilage back in 1995. They operated on it August 15 and I played my first soccer game on May 1 of the following year. The official rehab that the insurance was paying for ended in November and from that point on it was just me working out to get it strong enough so the doctor would let me get back to playing. By that time I could walk okay, the leg was just weak. Before and immediately after the surgery, I had an immobilizer that I would put on to lock the knee in place when I was walking around. I didn’t have any trouble with it in the gym, with the obvious exception of no standing exercises. It seems daunting, but afterwards you’ll realize it realy isn’t all that bad. When people ask me why I continue to play soccer, I respond that the worst thing about the injury was not being able to play. So I’m realy not accomplishing anything by not playing. One thing to keep in mind if you compete in any sports. They gave me a real sturdy knee brace to wear when I started playing again. It didn’t seem to affect the way I played(slow before the injury; slow after the injury), so I wore it whenever I played. Recently I noticed that the injured leg was noticably smaller than the other. Part of this is a huge lack of dedication on my part when it comes to lower body training, although I think I am getting better. Another cause I attribute this to is wearing that brace for 1-2 games a week for 6 years. Maybe it takes just enough stress of that leg that it took this long to make itself known? Whatever the reason, I now wear a regular stretchy neoprene brace and will eventually turn that in when I’m convinced that I don’t need it. Sorry for the long post, but you sound like the end of the world is upon us, and it realy isn’t, it just seems like that now.

Try getting a knee brace that’s designed for an ACL tear. Your doctor or surgeon will know where to get one. You can get one personalized, but that costs money. If you want to go a cheaper, many sporting good stores carry cheap braces. If you go that way make sure you get one that supports the ligamets that were torn, not just a neoprene wrap. Good luck.

Brad, I had a very similar injury to yours a few years ago. Several people have posted in the last few years, and if you search for “ACL” in the search engine you’ll probably get several really good threads.

Here’s my advice, in no particular order: get ready to take care of that knee for the rest of your life, and LEARN as much about the injury as possible. Go to a sports-oriented doctor and therapist or get ready to take your doctor’s advice with a grain of salt. Mine was an old-people-orthopod and in my opinion a great surgeon and a terrible doctor. He told me that I would never do anything but swim again. Within eighteen months of the surgery I was olympic lifting in college.

Be patient, be persistent, and be careful, and you will be fine. There is a huge amount of mental bullshit to deal with for the next while (losing strength, feeling out of shape, having a calf that is 8 inches around for a while). Frankly, if it makes you feel better, just keep posting. I won’t think you are a pussy, and if anyone in the world will understand this kind of feeling it will be the helpful meatheads who patrol this board. Good luck and keep us posted.

Machines are important. The brace is important. But should you like to continue with freeweights and barbells, an understanding workout partner is most important.


Hi all… Thanks for the encouraging words and good tips. I wear a brace when I’m in the gym currently, but it’s just one of those neoprene wraps that has more rigid sides laterally and medially. I’ll have to look into a brace that suits an ACL tear better than what I have, and I’ll get back to you. As for my leg workouts; I’m doing strictly machine movements with super light weights in order to maintain some sort of tonicity. I really do appreciate your replies, to know that people have been through worse and have been reached the other side succesfully pumps me up and gives me something to lean on. Thanks again…