Just What I Kneeded

What happens after a life-altering knee injury?

Current rehab protocol


It’s been 14 months since the DeNovo NT cartilage graft and the tibial tubercle transfer (aka tibial tubercle osteotomy), and I’ve definitely made some progress in what I can do now in PT, especially when you compare it to where I was 10 months ago (when things started to go south). Ok, let’s be real. I’ve made measurable progress since I started this latest PT the first of July.

Right now, I spend at least 30 minutes in the gym every day of the week, and most days it’s closer to 60 minutes. This time is dedicated just to the PT stuff; if I want to do anything else, I have to make more time for it. I also spend 30 minutes five days a week using the NMES unit to help retrain the VMO.

When I’m in the gym, I usually warm up for five to ten minutes on the elliptical. Sometimes it’s on the bike. Only once has it ever been on the treadmill (that one just doesn’t work well for me right now). Once I’m done with the warm-up, I move on to the good stuff. Below is the list of exercises. I don’t do all of them every single time; I do a basic set and then switch up the rest.

  • Bridges
  • Leg Press (single-leg hold of 165 lbs)
  • Hamstring Press (single-leg press of 55 lbs)
  • Single-leg Calf Raises
  • Plank
  • Side Plank
  • Mountain Climbers
  • Side skate
  • Sit-to-stand
  • Side lunge with gliding disc (For this one, I get into a squat and hold that position on one leg while I push the other out/back about 45 degrees with my foot on the disc)
  • Russian Twists (3 sets of 30)

When I’m doing the shock therapy with the NMES, I don’t just sit there and let it do all the work. I work along with it by doing various exercises. While the pads are attached to the VMO and the upper/inner thigh (don’t know what that’s called), I do the following:

  • Five minutes of warm-up (short arc quad sets)
  • Five minutes of straight leg raises
  • Five minutes of holding a one-leg squat

When I have the pads hooked to the VMO and my hip (for the second half of the 30-minute session), I do the following:

  • Five minutes of sit-to-stand
  • Five minutes of side leg raises
  • Five minutes of clamshells

I’ve worked my way up to be able to tolerate full power on the NMES unit, and it leaves quite a sore muscle once I’m done. I have to take a day off every couple of days to let it recover. It feels like the VMO gets a major workout and leaves the after burn of a sore muscle. It’s not bad pain, but it builds if I don’t take a day off now and again.

In order to keep up with the PT, I’ve almost ceased to ride my bike. That’s been easier to deal with now that the weather is colder; I don’t have the same desire to get out and ride.

I did add a yoga class one evening a week. I’ve been going now for a little over a month, and I have to admit that I really like it. I had no idea. I always thought yoga was for people who were not me. I was fairly biased about who I thought were the people who enjoyed yoga. But now I’m one of them. It hasn’t been easy because I can’t kneel, but I lucked out with a very good instructor who talked me through several modifications for the popular kneeling poses. And she gave me one of her old yoga mats that is made of something much more dense than a regular mat that you’d find at, like, Nordstrom Rack. I can fold it over on itself, and it’s dense enough to keep my knee off the ground. It’s awesome.

That’s about it. Most days I crawl into bed utterly exhausted, but I think it’s going to be worth it.


Author: Laura

I have a fern I named Frankenstein. I like leprechauns, practicing kung fu moves on my dining room furniture, and pretending that one day I will move to Fiji. I dislike my neighbors' kids, anything that is chartreuse, and Ben Roethlisberger.

5 thoughts on “Current rehab protocol

  1. congratulations! It is no small feat! Its great to hear that your pain is so much less now. I’m sure you still have the still hurt or even times in the day where it still hurts but not nearly as bad as it was.
    I have started up yoga again as well. I happy that I could start. it was frustrating to begin with because there was a lot I couldn’t do I didn’t realize just how weak my leg was. But it’s gotten a lot stronger over the last 2 months. I can even get on my knees as long as I have blanket rolled up to support my knee.

    • Yay for yoga! I’d no idea how helpful it could be for knee issues. And just in general. I’m glad to hear that you’re getting stronger! Have you been doing yoga for long? What’s your preferred practice?

  2. I was doing yoga one day a week for about a year before I got hurt. It helped a lot with my running. I love doing hot yoga but I don’t go to that gym anymore. But my favorite yoga is vinyasa sometimes its called flow yoga. I found a website call do yoga with me and its all free classes. If your looking.

    • I’ve never done hot yoga. Really, I’ve barely done yoga at all, but it’s vinyasa that I’ve been testing out. I really like it. Thanks for the website tip! I’d not really thought to find online classes. I’ll definitely have to take a look.

  3. Pingback: Optimism | Just What I Kneeded

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