An Inside Look at an ACL Tear Recovery

The Rehab

Both Hand and Wallace spent the first couple of days after surgery laying in bed. Both were in pain.

After the rest, both were on crutches for about two weeks. But aggressively wanting to get the knee back in shape for basketball season, both Hand and Wallace started rehabilitation about four days after surgery.

One of the first thing trainers work on during the long road back is range of motion--getting your knee back to the mobility it had before the injury.

Hand and Wallace rehabbed between five and seven days a week, working on building strength, coordination, balance and range of motion in the knee. Most of the time, the exercises were redundant, and got boring.

"They tried to make it fun, but it's the same exercises over and over," Hand said. "There's not too much different stuff they can do."

Added Wallace: "To make progress, you're going to have to go through some pain," Wallace said. "Your leg is just torn up. It's a lot of hard work. You've got to go in there every day expecting to work hard and push through everything. It's a battle, no doubt about it."

The rehabilitation, which lasts around six months, has its milestones that the athletes look forward to. Being able to use the stair machine was a big deal to Hand.

But one of the biggest milestones came four months after the injury. At that point, both were allowed to do straight-ahead running.

Side-to-side running and cutting followed 4-6 weeks later.

The Return

Hand was "released" from rehabilitation about six months after her injury, albeit equipped with a bulky brace on her knee. Wallace was released soon after.

There was one more hurdle left for the two at this point: The mental one.

"I was tentative on it," Wallace admits. "But I was ready to get back out there. I was a little out of shape, but that all comes with having to sit around for six months."

Now back to normal, both Hand and Wallace look back at their rehabilitation with a better perspective on the process. The way they see it, you have to trust the trainer with your knee--and work hard on keeping yourself in check mentally.

"I remember having days where I felt like I could conquer the world, and days where I couldn't even complete one exercise," Hand said. "I had a roller coaster of a rehab. I think the more consistent you can stay mentally--attacking one day at a time, and just remembering that you are progressing no matter how you feel--the better."

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