To any athlete who is going through an injury. (ACL beginning stages)

If you’re already out of surgery and have been for a while but are feeling down and lacking motivation, scroll to the last few paragraphs.

I will be posting a series of videos following my good friend Kayla through her ACL rehab. The purpose of this is because of how common these injuries are. They are so common yet take so long to recover from and cause a lot of mental stress as well. Her and I both know from first hand experience that this is a long road by yourself. We want to share our experiences, what we learned, and what we wish we knew beforehand.

Kayla is currently in the very early stages of her third ACL reconstruction. I have rehabbed three different ones in my life all on my right leg. My last surgery was almost 4 years ago and I have never felt better. My knee never hurts and I workout on it every day. I am positive this is because of 1) a great surgeon named Steve Martin in South Carolina and my uncle Steve Jackson who is an orthopedic PA and helped with my surgery… AND because of the day in and day out effort I put into rehab by myself and with my great physical therapists Olivier Corbel and Jeff Smith. I hope if you have a knee injury like an ACL tear you understand how important rehab really is. This is what sets you up for long term success and no pain. I am not a doctor, be sure to speak to yours about anything you have questions about before you do anything. These are my own tips based off of experience and opinion. I am not a professional.

A video I made with Kayla for weeks 0-2.

Things to know and do before surgery:

  • The stronger you go into surgery the better, do quad contractions/leg raises until surgery.
  • Research what books you may want to read during your down time after surgery. I suggest ones that are positive and motivating.
  • Think about what room you would like your post-surgery “set-up” to be. One with a table or stand you can reach, not too much sunlight so you can sleep, and a t.v. is ideal.
  • Go grocery shopping before surgery to pick things you love. Try to stay on the healthier side, this helped me feel better when I couldn’t do any physical activity for so long.
  • ** Pain pills often cause bowl movement problems. Kayla and I both dealt with constipation which just adds one more thing to worry about or make you uncomfortable. Start taking stool softeners a few days before and eat a lot of fiber to help reduce this.
  • If you are in school make sure you talk to your teachers and plan how to get your work while you’re out.
  • Find some sort of cushion for your crutches. I used a wooly blanket material for under my armpits …it made me sweat a little but helped a lot with comfort.

Things to know and do AFTER surgery:

Post Surgery :(To be honest, the first week is the absolute worst. It is painful, you don’t do rehab yet, and its just plain boring. Hang in there and relax, it will pass:)

  • Just sleep! Sleep as much as you can the first few days. Let your body rest and recover.
  • Set a timer for your pain medications. Don’t let the pain come fully on between your doses, because they take time to kick in as well.
  • Don’t remove any bandages right after surgery, wait for your doctor or physical therapist.
  • Don’t worry about showering for a few days. I know it sounds gross, but showering after surgery is tricky and there is really no point to. You shouldn’t be sweaty and gross because you will be resting.
  • Keep your leg elevated above your heart when you are laying down
  • When resting and sleeping: place a cushion for your leg as close to your heal as you can in order to keep full extension (very important).
  • Make sure you have someone staying with you to help who you can get ahold of easily.
  • Make sure none of the floor is wet before you crutch anywhere.
  • Sometimes the strap of a brace will rub right on the incision and stitches, carry a small pad to cushion it if this happens.
  • Ask your doctor and physical therapist as many questions as you can think of. The more you know the more confident you will feel in your recovery.

My thoughts and advice from my own personal experience:

Work on the inside: I wish I figured this out during my three rehabs. I was awfully young but now I really understand the importance of it. I’m lucky I had the sport of soccer as my motivation to recover and keep me motivated to come back fitter and stronger. I just wanted to get back on the field to train and get better as soon as I could. I didn’t touch on the mental side as much as I would now if I were to go through it again. Now I realize that despite this being the main reason I rehabbed so well, I was missing the other very important side that I didn’t discover until a little during the last recovery. Start thinking about how you can improve your mindset. Not just for your sport because the truth is you are NOT your sport. You play your sport. You are not defined by your sport. You are __(your name)__. You are defined by the way you think, your perspective on life, your habits, how you treat people, what makes you happy, who you love, who loves you, etc. So work on these things and you will work on your overall being in this world. Stop letting a sport completely control your brain and everything you think about. Say this is a career ending injury or you have one in the future. Now you’re really left in a hard place, at the bottom , all alone because you haven’t figured this out yet. You lost everything you thought you were and everything that defined you. I had this realization after my third tear that there is so much more to life than soccer. There is more to life than your sport. Rehabbing like a beast should be a goal so you can have the quality of life you want later on when you’re done playing… So you don’t hurt with every step and walk with a limp while your children grow up. Tackle your rehab for the future you.

Read books, learn bout yourself and your personality type, challenge yourself, learn as much as you can, and learn about anything that interests you. Being happy is completely and 100% up to you and only you. NOT ANYONE ELSE. Remember that.

Please comment any questions and share with me anything you’d like to. I would love to hear about other individual’s experiences through any hard times. What you learned, what it felt like, what you took away from it, etc.

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