As recovery progresses into another week, I start to think I will never see single track again as I have watched my leg muscles dwindle. It is true that I have regained a considerable amount of mobility back but the knee does not move as freely as it once did and the simple tasks of walking normally and climbing stairs still allude me - making me wonder if it will ever feel strong again. The metal stresses test me everyday I swear! During these last 5 weeks, with no aerobic activity and leg exercises aimed at knee recover versus muscle building, I have been focusing on other areas that I do have control over right now - Upper Body Strength, Core Strength, and Nutrition. I think as cyclist, we sometimes work thelegs hard but forget about the importance of having a strong upper body and core to help us negotiate our bikes. With a strong supportive upper body and core, we have better balance, better control, and better support for our leg muscles to perform optimally. Nutrition is yet another area that is sometimes over looked but is so important during the training and racing seasons. But even during a downtime, like recovering form an injury, nutrition I believe is even more vital. It would be so easy during these down weeks, or months do I dare say, to forget about what goes into our bodies - AND I will admit I forgot for a few weeks and fell into the eat whatever mode. But I am back on track and have been maintaining healthy eating habits so that when the time to get back on the bike and train hard again, I will be ready to give it my all. Getting back on the bike and riding strong again is what is keeping me focused!
I believe that these upcoming weeks will be the most critical in my recovery process as I continue to work on gaining more consistent mobility as well as focusing on gait mechanics with Mark Kane (www.kanetraining.com). Mark focuses on proper body mechanics especially during this recovery process. During recovery, one body part might be overcompensating for another and this is the time when bad habits, the root of all imbalances, are formed. So I have been focusing on walking properly without my leg swinging outward. With the use of my hiking sticks, to take the weight off my legs, I could focus on a proper gait.
So simple and it worked!!! No more hiking sticks. I also exaggerated the gait to aid in increasing flexibility and it too has worked! I am walking with a normal gait - still feels a little stiff but the knee is moving properly again at a walk. Negotiating stairs is like climbing Mount Everest for me these days. We have started to work on some aided strength exercises to work the muscles used to ascend and descend stairs. Aided because it reduces the body weight so I do not overcompensate somehow. It allows me to purely focus on the movement pattern. With the use of a band attached to a door to lessen the weight on the legs, I started with the simple squat and then progressed to a split squat. I can feel the quads being engaged again (YEAH) while protecting the knee and maintaining equal pressure throughout the range of motion.
It is all about taking it back down to the basic building blocks that will ultimately support a strong and balanced body!