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View Full Version : Swimmer Health: Knee Ligaments & the pool



Blackbeard's Peg
August 30th, 2007, 10:15 PM
Despite the relaxation of vacation, I was looking forward to returning home, as I had a hockey game on Monday evening against a team we don't like all that much (they're a beginner team that somehow has folks who've played before). Anyways, 1st shift, I end up taking one of their defenders into the boards behind the net. It was an ugly pile. Nothing exciting to report. 2nd shift, I end up falling, right skate first, towards the wall after a puck. Ouchy Wouchy goes the knee.
I could barely get around on tuesday, and went to see a friend of mine who is an AT. She did her bending, pushing, pulling, etc., and said its probably something with the MCL or a meniscus. Spent half of my birthday waiting in the doctors office the next day, and he told me the same thing. Then spent most of today getting an MRI and waiting in the doc's office again.
The verdict: MCL sprain. Phew. So its crutches, brace and PT for a few weeks. No surgery. No massive braces. September off for sports.
So here's where you come in... Anyone had some knee ligament issues in the past? Any advice, at least as it pertains to PT and then getting back in the pool? Stud - looks like you'll be smoking me in breaststroke this year...

jaegermeister
August 30th, 2007, 10:22 PM
I think you just have to be a slug. Not much I know of that can strengthen an MCL. Use a brace, don't do evilstroke. Working on muscles whose tendons cross the knee (eg quads, hammies, etc) might stabilize things somewhat but you still can't protect the ligament this way.

Sounds like a fairly physical league. At what point does it become no-check?

Blackbeard's Peg
August 30th, 2007, 10:51 PM
I think you just have to be a slug. Not much I know of that can strengthen an MCL. Use a brace, don't do evilstroke. Working on muscles whose tendons cross the knee (eg quads, hammies, etc) might stabilize things somewhat but you still can't protect the ligament this way.

Sounds like a fairly physical league. At what point does it become no-check?

Thanks for the advice. This is beginner, lowest of "D" league - and no-check. AND the third on my team to go down with a knee injury.

david.margrave
August 31st, 2007, 02:06 AM
.
The verdict: MCL sprain. Phew. So its crutches, brace and PT for a few weeks. No surgery. No massive braces. September off for sports. year...

Hey I had one of those ten years ago (MCL sprain) from a snowboarding injury. I wasn't swimming at the time so can't offer any advice in that area. The ortho told me no sports of any kind for 6 weeks, and I complied of course. It healed up fine and I was back snowboarding after 6 weeks. No issues at all from it today that I can tell.

goggles
August 31st, 2007, 04:45 AM
Sorry to hear about your woes. I had cruciate ligament damage many years ago, treatment then was first rest then slowly build up muscle strength to support knee joint. Still have loosey goosey knee and evil stroke can hurt sometimes.




Everyone is entitled to my opinion

meldyck
August 31st, 2007, 07:34 AM
So here's where you come in... Anyone had some knee ligament issues in the past? Any advice, at least as it pertains to PT and then getting back in the pool? Stud - looks like you'll be smoking me in breaststroke this year...

Jeff,

after years of playing soccer I was playing a friendly game in Germany and got a hyperextended knee going for a loose ball. Extreme pain (far worse than ouchy wouchy) - probably the most painful injury I've ever had - and had to have the knee joint drained of blood. Wasn't swimming at the time but couldn't walk without a brace for about a month. Had to use a walker for about a week to get out of bed & get to the bathroom at night. I was 45ish at the time. Took up cross-country skiing and walking and in about 5 years the joint became strong enough to begin swimming. I'm a breaststroker and can do a 3000 yard BR set now with no problem.

I gave up soccer and can't run on it anymore without having it fill with fluid.

Time, patience and PT may heal it in your case or they may not. I guess I was lucky. Hope you are too.

Slowswim
August 31st, 2007, 09:25 AM
Muppet:

I had meniscus repair done last October. My doctor and PT let me swim as soon as the incision healed, but no kicking. I swam my works and three stroke with a pull buoy. After a couple of months, I could swim free and back but no fins. Around six month and I could do whatever I wanted. I was cautioned to go easy on the evil stroke kick.

I was lucky that one of the PTs was a competitive swimmer in high school and understood the pressure different strokes put on the knee as well as the various toys that take it off.

Since you have no incision there's no worry of infection. I'd ask the doc/PT if given some restrictions if you can swim like I did.

Good Luck.

nkfrench
August 31st, 2007, 01:07 PM
I hyperextended / dislocated my knee also playing soccer. It completely ruptured the ACL, PCL, LCL, and partial tear of the MCL (another doc quipped that I tore the "L" out of my knee). Nerve damage so I had foot drop for 3+ months, happily that resolved. The repairs didn't work, had to have it reconstructed 6 months later putting in a synthetic graft and repurposing hamstrings.

I have heeded the doc's advice and gave up the weight-bearing sports I was active in (soccer, softball, volleyball, skiing, racketball). It even killed my rec bowling game and ability for social dancing, but at least after a year I didn't have to wear a big titanium knee brace 24/7. Rehab was 5 months doing it diligently and I started swimming as soon as I was off crutches (wearing my sports brace).

PT was fun, I went to a place specializing in sports med and lots of motivated patients and nice people running the place. About 15 hours a week plus doing stuff at home with an ankle weight.

Back to the MCL: while I can swim a crappy breaststroke, it hurts the inner knee. I like swimming the IM so I always practice it with a dolphin kick instead of frog kick, and use weights to work the glutes and hip adductors/abductors etc instead. The only actual breaststroke kick is when I race, which hasn't been for a long while.

Well, good luck!

swimshark
August 31st, 2007, 03:14 PM
Jeff, sorry to hear about the knee. I hope the rest of your birthday was nice. Happy belated!

Alison

rtodd
August 31st, 2007, 08:36 PM
I think swimming puts zero pressure on the knees except breastroke where I get inside knee pain on my left leg when I really whip it. I need to be careful.

ensignada
August 31st, 2007, 09:59 PM
Ouch, Jeff. I sprained mine jumping off a curb 2 years ago (doh!). The thing that helped me most was a brace; I wore it constantly at first (even on the hottest summer days), and then weaned myself after several weeks when it finally became uncomfortable. Be sure to get one that had great lateral support, if you go that route. I wasn't swimming then, but when I started I used a lightweight neoprene support. I do fine now, but still feel slippage the day after I use the breaststroke kick. Good luck.

My favorite brace:

http://www.kneeshop.com/proddetail.asp?prod=230

I still drag it out if I'm going hiking.

WPSWIMS
August 31st, 2007, 11:33 PM
I tore my PCL (Posterior Cruciate Ligament) skiing 2 years ago. The ski patrol thought I was nuts because I was more worried about not being able to swim breaststroke competively than going to the Vail Clinic! I had no surgery, but did PT, lots of cycling and walking. I have no problem swimming free, fly, or back. The only way I can swim breast is to do the old frog kick...forget the whip kick. I can not use fins in practice..hurts like the dickens. Does anyone know of a fin that I could use so I can keep up with my lane during kick sets.
I wear one of those big titanium braces for skiing, hiking, and tennis now. I compete mostly all free events, some fly...even did 400 IM at Nationals.

Swimmy
September 1st, 2007, 03:37 PM
Despite the relaxation of vacation, I was looking forward to returning home, as I had a hockey game on Monday evening against a team we don't like all that much (they're a beginner team that somehow has folks who've played before). Anyways, 1st shift, I end up taking one of their defenders into the boards behind the net. It was an ugly pile. Nothing exciting to report. 2nd shift, I end up falling, right skate first, towards the wall after a puck. Ouchy Wouchy goes the knee.
I could barely get around on tuesday, and went to see a friend of mine who is an AT. She did her bending, pushing, pulling, etc., and said its probably something with the MCL or a meniscus. Spent half of my birthday waiting in the doctors office the next day, and he told me the same thing. Then spent most of today getting an MRI and waiting in the doc's office again.
The verdict: MCL sprain. Phew. So its crutches, brace and PT for a few weeks. No surgery. No massive braces. September off for sports.
So here's where you come in... Anyone had some knee ligament issues in the past? Any advice, at least as it pertains to PT and then getting back in the pool? Stud - looks like you'll be smoking me in breaststroke this year...

:cheerleader:
Muppet,
Sorry to hear about your injury. Feel better fast! Hockey sounds too dangerous! Stick with swimming.
Swimmy
:cheerleader:

jaegermeister
September 2nd, 2007, 12:06 AM
Sorry, I shouldn't have suggested in saying "be a slug" that you shouldn't continue to be active. In fact, I think swimming something other than evilstroke really should be fine, as you shouldn't under usual circumstances put any lateral strain on your knee, which would potentially strain your MCL.

Sounds like a lot of us have experienced more severe knee injuries; as they go the MCL is fairly mild, so you should be in good shape in the long run.

Blackbeard's Peg
September 3rd, 2007, 08:30 PM
Thanks for the replies, all. I appreciate the tips too! So far I am doing pretty well one week later, and can walk down stairs pretty normal. Still can't really bend the bender the full way, and we're still hurting now and then.

One negative development, though... I'll be hitting the 200lb mark pretty easily now that I am vegging... wouldn't be surprised to see that tomorrow, actually.

islandsox
September 5th, 2007, 11:32 AM
I had an ACL full repair due to a tear and break in 1992. My orthopedic surgeon wanted me to move the knee because joints need to be moved. Right out of surgery, they had me in a CPM machine (knee moving up and down). I was back in the pool 3 weeks later (and still was in phys therapy). I used a pull buoy to restrict the legs and I pushed off the wall with my other leg (open turns). So at least I could do some anaerobic/aerobic work in the pool so as not to lose too much swim conditioning. I used the handicap lane in the pool. Plus this allowed me to work on freestyle, breathing patterns, shoulder strength and the pull buoy kept me horizontal. Was really glad I did this.

Can you get in a pool yet?

Donna

Blackbeard's Peg
September 5th, 2007, 11:45 AM
I had an ACL full repair due to a tear and break in 1992. My orthopedic surgeon wanted me to move the knee because joints need to be moved. Right out of surgery, they had me in a CPM machine (knee moving up and down). I was back in the pool 3 weeks later (and still was in phys therapy). I used a pull buoy to restrict the legs and I pushed off the wall with my other leg (open turns). So at least I could do some anaerobic/aerobic work in the pool so as not to lose too much swim conditioning. I used the handicap lane in the pool. Plus this allowed me to work on freestyle, breathing patterns, shoulder strength and the pull buoy kept me horizontal. Was really glad I did this.

Can you get in a pool yet?

Donna

Can I, yes. I just need to make it over there first.

Update - a week and change later, I am walking a lot, albiet slowly, and saving the crutches for the longer journeys (ie from parking lot to office, etc.) just to continue to baby the knee. I can almost straighten it out full length. Was thinking I may try to get in and give the pool a whirl this week; we'll see.

islandsox
September 5th, 2007, 04:33 PM
Can I, yes. I just need to make it over there first.

Update - a week and change later, I am walking a lot, albiet slowly, and saving the crutches for the longer journeys (ie from parking lot to office, etc.) just to continue to baby the knee. I can almost straighten it out full length. Was thinking I may try to get in and give the pool a whirl this week; we'll see.

Great, but whirling may do you in--whirl carefully LOL!

ensignada
September 5th, 2007, 08:22 PM
Thanks for the advice. This is beginner, lowest of "D" league - and no-check. AND the third on my team to go down with a knee injury.

It's hell getting old, isn't it? :cane:

You're pushing 30, right? :D

Seriously, you may find an Ace elastic knee brace gives a little lateral support when you start swimming. Good luck!

A.K.
September 5th, 2007, 09:08 PM
A couple of weeks ago I was crouching down and when I went to stand up my left knee popped out away from my body sideways with alot - no a Sh*t load of pain. I leaned on my right leg holding my left leg afraid to look. It seems it went out of the socket and back in. I could not put any pressure on it by an angle of crouching, however I could stand on it. It has taken almost 3 weeks before i could crouch on it - I have iced it and kept from putting weight on it when bent and it appears to be working.

re:It's hell getting old, isn't it?

It is quite a drag getting older, just stay young at heart.:banana:

Blackbeard's Peg
September 5th, 2007, 10:22 PM
It's hell getting old, isn't it? :cane:

You're pushing 30, right? :D


Yes, Barb, I spent the better half of the afternoon I officially entered my late twenties in the doctors office expecting to hear my youth was officially over. Thankfully, I guess I still have a few years left ;)

Donna, I gave it a whirl today... It has been two weeks to the day since my last swim - then I swam that nautical mile out to the island in Maine in probably 58degree water. brrrr. Co-worker Mark [easily] coaxed me into going. It definetely felt weird not to kick (yes, I know I am a distance swimmer who actually kicks) but I could feel every time my legs weren't straight back and start to cross over each other. Only did 400LCM, most of it just letting the legs hang. I did do a little bit of conscious kicking, and it felt ok, but I didn't want to push it.

I will say that while it was a tad bit depressing, I was by no means sad/mad about it. I wasn't expecting to get in kick ass - I was more than happy to see that I could get in, test the waters, know my limits and actually do this without hurting myself. Along with the walking I've been doing lately, it gave me a huge confidence boost that I will make a full recovery.

Slowswim
September 6th, 2007, 01:06 PM
Muppet:

I think a lot of us senior to you will tell you that you decide when your youth ends.:party2:

I have no time for my second childhood because I'm still in my first.:wine:

Blackbeard's Peg
September 21st, 2007, 12:17 AM
Despite the cold the blue muppet seemed to pass along (gotta blame it on someone:cry:), nothing was going to stop me from getting in the pool today. My first practice in over a month, and first official post-injury workout. I was very excited to begin my in-water therapy. :banana:

I have a pair of buoys: my foam block "Competitor" brand buoy that is huge and rarely seen these days, and 'Inbal,' the name of my small kiefer pull buoy formerly used by one of our former female coaches during her NCAA days (her last name is on the buoy). I use the foam block for when I want some serious floating leg dragging action, and the small one for when I want to add some kicking. The small one doesn't really let my legs float that much, so it is perfect for trying to keep my legs straight and not cross each other (which does cause pain) while doing a half-ass kick.

Did ~700 pull w/u,
pulled 8x75, trying to keep up with the folks doing kick/drill/swim
main set (i did all pull):
400 6:00 (went 5:42)
2x300 4:30 (went 4:10)
3x200 3:00
i did these as 3x100, doing the first two during the other folks' 50-150 part, adding in a *little* kick and trying to challenge the blue muppet, and the 3rd on their second 100 of the last 200. They were descending - I just wanted to see how fast I could make them... went 12, 10, 10.
did a 100 kick afterwards to see how it felt.

The end of my practice was very heartening, that I could make an attempt to do some legs. However, I could tell I was holding back, and in general, I can't turn correctly at all. My biggest concern is the turns, as I think those hold the best chance for my knee to get re-effed up. I was very careful about how intense they were today... I challenged my knee, but still could feel myself holding back a lot.
Though I didn't hurt myself, I think I will have to back off on the turn challenges until october just to be safe. I have a tendency to keep upping the challenges - and don't want that to backfire.
I should be able to make practice on saturday, m & w. More pulling fun! I think i may try to do kick sets w/ small pull buoy and dorkel.