I was in the best shape of my life recently, and doing a mix of workouts: hiking, at the gym with a trainer, running, yoga, etc.

Unfortunately I tore my ACL about a month ago, and the MRI says I also fractured a couple of bones I have an appointment with a specialist in a month, and will then have to wait to get surgery sometime thereafter. My doctor has instructed me remain on crutches and avoid weight bearing.

In the meanwhile, I'm turning into a real bag of milk. My physio says I can cycle a tiny bit on a stationary bike, swim and has given me leg lifts to do, But can you please help me out with other exercises? This is honestly killing me. 

Any suggestions would be amazing.


Oh the beauty of adversity brought upon by an injury, which you are going to get to go through all over again after your surgery! Right now, while you are waiting to go under the knife, just keep pushing yourself and working hard, with restrictions of course. Anything load-bearing is out of the question, obviously, but it does not mean you will be deprived of getting your heart rate up. 

Hate to tell you this but swimming is one of the only things you will be able to do during this time. 1, 2, 3 breath.  1, 2, 3 breath. Over and over and over again. Although most find swimming extremely boring, the good news is that it is a wicked workout and because you are in a prone position it is one of the most efficient ways of improving your VO2 Max. And, it is going to give you a sweet, toned, muscular upper body (including your abs!). If you are not a strong swimmer, your first few sessions are going to be tough. After a few sessions you will be amazed at how strong you have become. 

So how do you get your heart rate up and walk away from a swim workout feeling like you have been challenged?  My suggestions for you are as follows. Start with swimming one length at a time, and taking short rests between each. After a week, move that up to two lengths (a lap) resting between each. Alternate between a lap with a pull buoy between your knees (this targets your upper body as well as helps make you more buoyant) followed by a lap of freestyle kicking with a kickboard. As you become stronger increase it to two laps of each, taking a short break between sets. You can then start to play around with your speed. For example, when swimming two laps, try to swim the last half faster than the first, or try to swim each length faster, or do a set of four lengths as hard as you can followed by two lengths of recovery. Set a goal of swimming for 30 minutes and simply see how far you can swim. Over time, increase the duration until you are eventually swimming for an hour. Trust me, this will be just as good of a workout, if not better, than the workouts you are used too. Investing in water proof headphones and a waterproof mp3 player can take away some of the boredom.

In regards to your strength training, keep doing the exercises prescribed by your physio and ask him about strengthening your leg muscles, especially your hamstrings, to get you ready for the surgery. I would also recommend getting into a Pilates class (make sure you go specifically to a Pilates studio) to help keep your core strong as well as make sure you do not create muscle imbalances because of the injury and postural deficiencies because of using crutches. Talk to your physio about using a cane instead as they are easier on your body. You still have an entire upper body to work out so hit the gym and keep it strong. You will be surprised how much you can sweat when only training your upper body. Lat pull-downs, seated rows, dumbbell chest presses, bicep curls, overhead presses, triceps and abs can all be targeted without aggravating your knee. Do 20 repetitions and train in a circuit style so you will not need to rest, which will keep you sweating. Your trainer should be able to guide you through a very challenging workout without aggravating your knee. Stay away from yoga until after your surgery and you are well into your rehabilitation. Ease yourself into it as many of the postures will be difficult for you to do for some time.

When the surgery is completed you are going to have to rest. This means the only exercise you can do for the first few weeks is rehabilitation and working on getting your mobility back. It will be a frustrating couple of weeks but it is best you take the time to heal because the sooner you are healed the sooner you are back to the old you and the sooner you are back doing all of the workouts you love.  I know this seems like forever away but the time will go by fast and I promise you this will be nothing but a distant memory.