Prehab...all the cool kids are doing it!
Surgery or not I knew I needed my knee more mobile and strong. I was less focused on swelling because of my understanding of the inflammatory process (more on that later).
Our bodies are amazing machines, and quite adaptable. This becomes an unfortunate attribute when you have an injury and life continues (read here: mom of 3, physical therapy clinic owner, dog mom...etc). If you aren't acutely body aware you don't even notice that you change which muscles are firing, and that you are moving with compensatory mechanics. Most of the time this can be corrected by slowing down...but who has time for that? You should slow down to optimize your movement...and I did since I am striving to be the perfect patient. It wasn't easy, and I am certainly more body aware than most, but within 2 weeks of injury I had normalized my gait pattern (no limp) and had a pretty solid quad set (meaning I could tighten the muscle in my thigh and not have my knee buckle). I then focused on range of motion, and restoring flexibility of my soft tissue structures (muscles, ligaments, etc.).
Many of you are wondering, "How?"...How did I regain functional mobility, ROM and strength PRIOR to surgery, and why bother? The answer is PREHAB! I worked to restore normal motion and strength by slowing down, using good movement patterns, listening to my body and working to restore normal healthy tissue in the knee around the area of structural failure. To gain ROM I had to push into the pain SLIGHTLY and allow my body to release its tension and guarding, but I wasn't pushing with the "no pain no gain" mentality. This healthy respect for some discomfort is a tough concept for many of my patients, and something I educate people about constantly. Its OK to feel some discomfort, but fear drives peoples' belief system and they avoid anything that "hurts," which in many cases leads to more dysfunction. We are meant to move and move well. It definitely didn't feel great, but I knew it was the secret to my success down the road.