It was probably about 3 hours after surgery that a physio came in to my room and went through all of the exercises that I could start doing. They were mainly aimed at helping to get my quads to fire; this is as they had not been used for the last 6 weeks whilst I was non weight bearing on crutches. About an hour after, another physio returned who helped me to start bearing weight on my leg whilst still on crutches. With it being 6 weeks since I had last walked, she had to explain to me the basics of how the leg is meant to move when walking. Still, I managed to walk whilst putting some weight onto my leg and even managed to walk up a few steps that were placed out in the hallway.
Less than a week after the surgery I went to the recommended local(ish) physio where he went over the exercises that I had already been given and showed me how to maximise the effect that each one had. He also went over how important stretching out my calf and hamstring would be in the recovery process. They, along with my quadriceps, had lost a lot of muscle mass whilst also becoming tight due to not being used for 6 weeks, stopping my leg from straightening fully.
I started heading to the gym in my second week back in Brighton. There’s a matted area designed for doing exercises and stretches which is perfect as it is much softer to sit and lie on than the wooden floor in my bedroom and there is much more space. It also allowed me to do some working out on the equipment whilst I was there. There is a selection of seated, upper body, weight machines which were perfect for me to use as no strain goes through my legs, and more importantly my knee, but they allow me to start re-strengthening muscles in my upper body.
I was told that using the cycling machines in the gym would be a good exercise to help and get some muscle mass and strength back into my quad, but to start by keeping the saddle a bit closer to the pedals than usual. This meant that my quad was doing most of the work and my knee was getting used to bending whilst being used for power but in a low impact way. Jumping or running would of course be high impact on my knee. I decided to start by cycling on the recumbent fitness bikes that were at the gym as I felt less weight would go through my knee sitting down and cycling as opposed to a position more similar to standing up.
I have listed the distance and times I cycled for during each gym session below and have calculated the approximate speed I was cycling at. This is more to show how the strength and endurance of my leg increased during the first few weeks of cycling.
25th Jan – 2.8km in 18mins (5.8mph)
29th Jan – 5.3km in 18mins (11.0mph)
1st Feb – 6.2km in 18mins (12.8mph)
5th Feb – 5.45km in 12mins (16.9mph)
8th Feb – 4.6km in 9mins (19.1mph)
15th Feb – 5.2km in 10mins (19.4mph)
I got some good news when I went to see my surgeon for a check up on 24th February, he said that my knee was stable and the meniscus tears have healed well over time. He was very happy with my progress since the surgery and was pleased that I hadn’t over done it and caused myself more damage by trying to do too much on it. He was also able to inform me as to why I was feeling pain underneath my knee whilst walking and also why my knee clicked quite a bit when bending/straightening my leg. However, he made it clear that the rest of my recovery was down to the effort that I was to put in from now on. My left quadricep was still lacking muscle mass and strength; this was what was causing my knee cap to not being kept in place properly, hence my patella tendon (the tendon just below the knee cap) being sore and the clicking that happened when straightening my leg. The best news he gave me was that I was allowed to start on quad strengthening exercises as my knee had become stable enough to cope with more strain.