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ACL Surgery and My Cross Country Season

by Afton

I tore my ACL about a month ago playing lacrosse, and I'm scheduled for reconstructive surgery in about two weeks. The MRI showed some meniscus damage as well. I'm almost 16 and was hoping to run cross country this coming fall; surgery in May is a definite setback.

Should I go through with cross country this fall? Should I run with the team but not compete? Season starts right when school does in September. What is the likelihood of redamaging my ACL?

Answer by Dominique:

Hi there,
Thank you for your question regarding your upcoming ACL reconstruction. The ACL (=anterior cruciate ligament) is one of the big ligaments around the knee joint. It plays an important part in stabilization of the knee.

After you have been through the reconstructive surgery, provided it is successful, you should have a healthy, normal knee again. There is a recovery period involved though, but eventually you should be able to do everything you were able to do before.

It is generally advised to focus on stretching and strengthening exercises after your ACL reconstruction in order to make all the muscles around the knee, i.e. ankles, lower legs, upper legs, etc., stronger.

Healing from what is quite a serious surgery takes time. I can't tell you whether you are going to be ready in September or not. Normally the three months you have got should be just enough to return to normal activity levels, but your individual circumstances may make your recovery period longer.

Work with the doctor who is treating you and try to understand what you can and cannot do. Not being able to run is a setback, but that does not mean that you need to sit still. There may be other types of sports you are still allowed to do that help your legs get stronger and help you maintain your fitness levels.

As I said before, after full recovery you should have a fully functioning knee again. Don't blow it by wanting to rush back into running. I understand that cross country can be important to you, but you will need that knee for a bit longer than the next cross country season! So, work with your doctor and make sure you make full recovery before you throw yourself into some crazy running training program.

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Best of luck with the surgery. I hope you will make a speedy recovery.
Kind regards,

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