Collecting Moments #7: Training after a knee injury
That moment when you’re sat in hospital listening to a diagnosis and the details of an injury can often be very sobering. You usually start off thinking “it won’t be so bad” approach and hope for good news. I was just the same, clinging to a small spark of hope …
I can still clearly remember the moment when my Mom opened the door to the casualty ward and we rolled into surgery. I recognized my MRI images straight away. The chief physician was on the phone discussing my injury in detail with his colleague. He had the following to say: “Yeah, she’s put up a pretty good fight, but it’s not looking good…” It felt like the ground had been pulled out from under me because I was genuinely convinced that it wasn’t that bad.
So, what now? Should they operate or not? I listened to many different opinions about the state of my knee and remained convinced that it was best not to have surgery. To this day I still don’t regret my decision for a second. There are studies that show that the knee can often “self-heal”. It develops a kind of tissue that allows the knee to regain the stability that was lost due to the torn ligament. The only downside: it takes months! So, you have to weigh things up and make a decision. Are you going to have an operation on your knee that may or may not prove effective, or spend months taking things real slow in training and giving your body time to heal? I have to say that it really varies depending on the situation, but in my case I had some fortune in my misfortune, because my chances of recovering without an operation looked pretty decent.
How and with what did I train to get fit again after my injury?
In general, training after a knee injury is all about building up muscle. Immediately after an injury you just have to rest – that’s not great for the muscles of course because they quickly start to break down. Stability in the knee is just not a given after the resting period because neither the ligaments nor the muscles offer sufficient support, at least not for sporting activities. In terms of your daily life, you start feeling better pretty quickly.
For me as an outdoorsy person, it was difficult to accept that a part of my training needed to take place inside using gym equipment. But the thought of returning to a level of 100% fitness and being able to get back on my KTM really motivated me to take those hours in the gym in my stride. It has been proven over decades that performing squats is the most effective exercise at building up muscle. But it’s real important that you do the exercise right and build things up slowly. Coordination and balance exercises on the Indo Board are also great and super fun too! There are loads of other exercises you can do in the gym or at home – the leg press is also an awesome piece of equipment. I did a lot work with my physiotherapist because, when it comes to training, it’s all about quality over quantity. Exercises are more efficient when they’re performed with accuracy and precision.
One of the first proper outdoor activities I did after getting injured was going on a ski trip. Few people would think of skiing as an appropriate comeback exercise after a knee injury and I’ll admit that I wasn’t completely up to it. The climb up is a great exercise because, similar to hiking, the knee and muscles move in a controlled and even manner and with a good rhythm. On top of that, fresh mountain air is good for the soul. The only problem is the descent. Skiing is obviously not great for the knees, which is why, at the start of my training, I had to take the cable car down – even though that seemed completely absurd to me as a passionate skier. By the end I was just grateful to be outside and active though. Sometimes you have to compromise.
Along with the skiing, I soon started mountain biking again. It was an amazing feeling getting back on my trusty Cannondale Jekyll and putting my feet to the pedals. The Jekyll is a real “Enduro” mountain bike and the seat position and the way it moves reminds me of riding Enduro on my KTM – it was so awesome! I managed to get myself very active again in a short period of time and was able to train exceptionally well.
I have to say one thing though: the whole thing would not have been possible without my Ortema K-COM . This brace gave my knee the stability it was lacking and considerably expanded my training options. I was able to get outside again and experience that feeling of freedom – and it was all thanks to my K-COM training partner.
I’ve now been parted from my beloved KTM for almost 7 months! It’s been real hard being patient for so long. This time last year I was mentally preparing to take part in the Red Bull Romaniacs event. The best way to motivate myself for that was to clearly visualize myself reaching my goal and riding through the Red Bull arch. That’s how I survived those four days in the Romanian forest, which can really push a person to their limits. Today, one year later, I’m thinking about that same moment and how I got to experience it! I’ve been channeling that feeling and all the associated emotions for the past few months, which has given me so much inner strength. It was real hard, but I don’t regret it!
Thanks to my training and my Ortema K-COM, my knee has recovered exceptionally fast. I feel fit and ready for my KTM; something that seemed far off for a very long time. It won’t be long now before I climb back in that saddle, press down on the E-starter and drown out everything around me. “READY TO RACE?” – not yet, but nearly!
Photos: Anna-Larissa Redinger | Esterpower