MCL Injury Physiotherapy

So it’s been 6 weeks since I injured myself and thought it was about time for another update.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I didn’t get advice from the doctor to go to a physio, so when I took myself there of my own accord I discovered that I should have gone earlier.

MCL injuries are given a 6 week timeframe as standard to return to full activity, but due to the lack of physio at the early stages, not only has my recovery been delayed, but I have also ended up with a bigger mountain to climb in the process.

Last week I went for a follow up appointment at the hospital where the doctor checked my range of movement and declared that if I can’t get it straight in the next two weeks, I must come to the hospital 3 times per week to see the physio. To make it straight, he told me to just take the brace off and make it straight for 2 hours per day. He made it sound so simple!

This completely ignores how much pain I feel when my range is exceeded and the physiology of why I couldn’t straighten it. My physio laughed when I conveyed the information, but also warned me that we would have to push through more pain if we are going to achieve his deadline and avoid the hospital physio.

For context, while an appointment at the hospital may only be an hour, it takes another 30 mins to go through the payment process and actually leave the building. The bus to and from Kutchan and Niskeo Village during the day is not included on the Niseko United lift pass, is also hourly at best and the round trip can easily take 5 hours which would mean I wouldn’t be able to work on those days.

What have I been doing with the physio?

We identified that my hamstring was super tight, which made a kind of chicken and egg situation. I couldn’t straighten my leg because my muscles was too tight, but I couldn’t stretch the muscle because I couldn’t straighten my leg!

My physio has been doing lots of muscles release on my hamstrings and also my glutes and back. Because I couldn’t straighten my leg, my walk has been a bit limpy and then everything else was overcompensating resulting in tightness in all sorts of places.

We also found other muscles that had become really weak and the combination with the really tight muscles and ITB meant that my patela was being pulled out of alignment. We used tape on the kneecap for a while to hold it in alignment while I strengthened and stretched to try and get this all back in balance.

In an effort to loosen off as much as possible I have also been visiting the onsen almost daily. Luckily we have free access to one at our staff accommodation or it would be another cost to keep track of for the insurance claim. I have also had to go out and buy a foam roller and a hard ball (I had to improvise as I couldn’t find a trigger release ball- park golf came to my rescue!) so that I can get into all the knots between physio sessions.

More recently I have been managing to start with more strengthening exercises, focusing first on core strength to support my back and then quads, which had become sleepy since the injury.  I also have had a go at hydrotherapy; doing exercises in a pool to take the loading off the knee which felt pretty good at the time but felt so strange walking back out onto dry land!

I’m nearly there with the straightness but it’s not comfortable yet and there is still some swelling in the joint, but fingers crossed I’m close enough that I can avoid returning to the hospital again and can get back on my board soon.


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