balloons and sky
Happy anniversary, knee!

Oh my goodness. I’ve reached the milestone of 36 weeks of post-ACL op recovery. O frabjous day callooh callay!

The past three weeks have seen continued improvement since Weeks 31-33, during which time I was able to increase activity levels and use self-massage to effectively eliminate some chronic pain in the knee. Swelling and stiffness remains, though I can now fully bend the knee and sit with knees folded under me without discomfort – big new milestone! Work with a personal trainer is helping my knee and the healthfulness of my pregnancy; we do a lot of conditioning which complements the swimming, cycling, walking and light BJJ.

Sparred for the first time since early January. Let me qualify that. In light of my pregnancy (and rather tremendous bump), Coach and I worked together in a very subdued way. We were ‘sparring’ to the extent that we were not drilling a set of moves and I had to move through positions ‘on the fly’. However, Coach was essentially a body bag that let me crush him one stuttering step at a time, with me working a lot of offence; not the normal scenario of me working hard to defend and escape the crushing on bottom. Haven’t been able to crawl all over Coach and apply a million submissions since my first week training with him nearly 8 years ago – haha! While it was a very different kind of ‘sparring’ to what we would normally do, it was perfect for me right now. I was able to stay within moderate exertion for 30 minutes – keeping breathing and heart rate at acceptable pre-natal levels – while working on recovering a little of my muscle memory (dang my ‘moves’ are rusty but got to focus on the long game) at a very slow but somewhat fluid pace. Coach’s complete lack of resistance and willingness roll into positions for my benefit and to suffer my extra 12 kilos (muahahaha) meant that I could surf around on top and apply movements in a manner that was extra slow and controlled so there was 100% fun with 100% safety. It was marvellous. I’m lucky to have a Coach and training partners so willing to let me beat on them during these injuries, recoveries and pregnancies. Unhappily, I cannot be as reciprocal with my partners as in the past, but it is only temporary and they are troopers for letting me torment them without tormenting me back (payback will come and I look forward to it!).

As far as the knee is concerned, it was pretty awesome not even thinking about it during our ‘roll’. I suppose we were both very bump-conscious instead, but the knee felt really good and only about halfway through did I realise that I wasn’t ‘protecting’ it; it just doesn’t feel loose and ropey like it used to – SWEET!

While I’d re-state that the pregnancy has definitely influenced the speed and trajectory of my personal recovery, I do feel my leg has come a long way and once life’s circumstances allow me to make a return to something more like regular activity levels, I’m sure I’ll be able to train with much better intensity and confidence as far as the leg is concerned. Was it worth it? It is hard to say as there’s still some recovery issues to work through and I haven’t been able to properly road test the refurbished knee. However, since Week 6 of recovery I could feel more stability and less laxity in the joint and that can’t be a bad outcome, especially once my activity levels can increase post-pregnancy and nursing; I yearn to work to exhaustion at least once a week! So, for my personal journey, compounded as it has been by a pregnancy, there’s still a long way to go, but fellow knee-warriors shouldn’t fear the commitment ACL reconstruction and recovery demands; I do believe the outcome of a good op and a cautious and committed recovery pays great dividends in the longer term.

Week Physio Milestones
34 Swimming, BJJ and The Stick First week able to sit with feet tucked under me without discomfort
35 Personal Training and BJJ Started bi-weekly sessions with personal trainer. ‘Sparred’ for the first time in 20 weeks.
36 Gym, Cycling, Hiking Outdoor fun during our ‘Babymoon’ in Suffolk


Every ACL op and recovery will be particular to the person. The thoughts and experiences recalled in this series of posts is in no way intended as medical advice or as a replacement for seeking medical attention for any injury. This information is presented merely as a record of one person’s experience with ACL operation and recovery.