Will Power
Recovery is 80% mental

The operated leg recovers little by little and incremental improvement, though small, is apparent each day. Compromises were made on reaching all of Week 3’s recovery goals, but the bigger picture of recovery is moving in the right direction and the range of sanctioned activities has expanded. In addition to levelling up my exercise options, low-level knee pain is very reduced, confidence in walking and descending stairs has increased and I was able to visit my home club for our quarterly Marc Walder seminar, which gave the mind a positive boost. The positivity has also been supported by taking advantage of the training down-time by spending more time with friends.

BJJers often work hard to maintain a balance between family, friends, work and training. Unhappily, in my case, it is often friends that get neglected. At the end of month 1 of 9, I’m grateful for the opportunity recovery has given for reconnecting with pals. So, over the last week, went to the movies with one pal and made a movie with another. The good company of friends is missed when my weekly schedule has to accommodate training so it is nice to have breathing room to give important people in my life more of my time.

Ladies on the elliptical runner
I wish it were as rewarding as these smiles suggest
Consultation with the Physio yielded more exercises and I can now swap in the elliptical (aka cross-trainer) during my weekly gym-based rehab sessions; I’ve been alternating bike and elliptical over the last week. While I aimed for 3 sessions this week, I was unable to meet those goals due to fatigue in the knee. While it is important to meet goals and to push the knee, it is equally important to ease off sometimes and I’m confident that I have the balance right between not ‘wimping out’ and ‘being sensible’. So, I had daily ‘little and often’ physio work at home, such as doing my bridges or squats while boiling the kettle, but only two gym sessions. Will aim for 3 again next week; in my experience and my Physio’s opinion, after a couple weeks of a rehab cycle one often needs a lighter week to rest the knee while actively healing it through physio.

I am delighted to report, that after a month off the mats, but working hard on conditioning as the leg allows, I’ve maintained my weight and, as far as my Tanita is concerned, I’ve shed 1.5% body fat. Pretty pumped that the beef-to-fat ratio is getting slicker during this period, and it is definitely motivating as far as the gym work is concerned. In addition to my curls, press-ups and V-sits, I’ll be adding new chin up goals in Week 5. At the moment, I max out at 2 consecutive chin ups. I will be working towards 5 quality, consecutive chin ups and once I hit that target will worry about performing from the pull up position. Challenging myself in this way and taking a goal-oriented approach has really helped to keep me feeling reasonably fit and mentally tough.

Benched Purple Belts
Benched Purple Belts
This recovery lark is largely in the mind, perhaps 80% mental and 20% consistent rehab work. Striving for goals within the parameters of rehab allow one to enjoy progress and to focus on what one can do, rather than on what one can’t. It is important to seek to maintain, as much as possible, one’s pre-recovery lifestyle. So, for instance, when I visited the club for a seminar this week – what a delight to see the guys! – I took my gi along and did some rehab on the mats and then observed the seminar. Feels a little silly to be prancing about in a gi and not training, but it feels 110% better than being benched in street clothes! Got to take every opportunity to keep the mind focused on what it can do. The commute to Kent from my home in East London was a little taxing on the knee and compounded the fatigue in the knee, but I will seek to visit our main Academy once a month, as I really miss my team mates; will exchange a Friday night Ilford class observation for a Saturday lunchtime Dartford class observation going forward.

So, yeah, bring it on; 5 more months til drills begin – can do this time easy!

Week 4


  • Wall sits – 3-5 reps, hold for 10-15 seconds, 3 times per day
  • Bridge – 3-5 reps, hold for 10-15 seconds, 3 times per day
  • Prone hamstring curl with flexed foot – 3-5 reps, 3 times per day
  • Hamstring push backs – 10 quick reps, 3 times per day
  • Hamstring push back with weights (gym rehab sessions)
  • Squats – two-legged, shoulder-width stance, 10 reps 3 times per day
  • Reverse lunge – sets of two at a time, holding for 5 secs for each rep, repeat 5 times each leg, 3 times per day
  • Balance – stand one-leg ‘little and often’, e.g. brushing teeth, waiting for a Tube, standing in queue
  • Stationary bike – 15 minutes, 80-90 RPMs, 7:10 perceived exertion level
  • Elliptical/cross trainer – 15 minutes, 80-90 RPMs, 7:10 perceived exertion level

As the number of exercises has increased over the past month, the aim is to ‘mix and match’ different exercises throughout the week.


  • Weight maintenance with fat percentage loss
  • At the club and in my gi
  • Great reduction in pain in terms of low level ache and sharp stiffness on walking after period of inactivity
  • Much greater confidence in walking and stair-descending


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.


Images courtesy of Salvatore Vuono | FreeDigitalPhotos.net and photostock | FreeDigitalPhotos.net