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Author Topic: LFC MicroFx Recovery for a Climber/Ski Mountaineer- A Journey  (Read 896 times)

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Offline seabass

  • MICROgeek (<20 posts)
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Hi All- I'm new to knee guru and thought I'd pop in and give a report of 3 years post micro fracture surgery.  I scoured the web for info when I was in more acute recovery, so figured someone might benefit from my journey.

I'm an active 35 yr old lady (alpine/big wall climber/ski mountaineer). I was pursing my mountain guiding certification and living in Hong Kong when I tour my meniscus. When the surgeon went in, he found  a hole in my lateral femoral condyle, a little bigger than the size of a quarter as well as a partial miniscus tear.  I forget all of medical details to describe it. If it's important to anyone, I'll track down the specifics.

I was militant/ocd about my recovery. Non-weight bearing for 6 weeks, knee in the leg bender machine exactly as prescribed, pt as prescribed, etc. I had an AMAZING physical therapist and my pt (from 2 months- 18mths) was manual therapy heavy. This supported the recovery process greatly.  My pt would prescribe physical training that I did on my own because I have a deep background in training and could be relatively self directed for this. The time I spent in the office was largely spent with manual therapy.

What follows is a list of my physical endeavors and how I've managed (or not!) my knee.  Perhaps you can learn from my process.

During months 3-5, I worked up to 6 miles of hiking over coastal mountainous terrain and spent a lot of time surfing.

I spent months 6 and 7 in Northern India. I did 3 separate 11 day long backpacking trips covering 200-ish miles on the eastern edge of the Himalaya (in the Ladakh region, which sits between the Himalaya and the Karakorum in Pakistan- amazing country). The first trip, I did homestays and had a light pack. My knee was intermittently cranky and I used topical NSAI in the evenings. I tried to wear a brace, but I hated it and stopped using it after 2 days. The second two trips, I carried a heavier pack (tent, stove, food for 10 days). The ratio of cranky to happy days got much better, and by the end of my time in Ladakh, my knee was consistently happy.  Essential learning- consistent and progressive loading is key.

I spent month 8 in New Zealand. My intention was to do a bunch of backcountry skiing/ski mountaineering. This was the first time I was on skis post-op (I'm a tele skier). The first descent I did was down a couloir of breakable crust, and it hurt my knee, which swelled like a watermelon. So, I decided to go look for birds instead. When the swelling subsided (after 3-5 days), I did a couple super light and fast through hikes (averaging around 15miles/day). This was beautiful and felt good. Essential learning: if it really hurts, don't do it.

I spent months 9-12 in Hong Kong doing a lot of rock climbing. I was seeing my pt genius once a week or once every 2 weeks. I was bouldering a lot in a gym, and jumping/falling down from routes hurt, so I mostly climbed within my range and downclimbed EVERYTHING. Nothing like the micro-fx zing...

Months 13-14 I went on a surfing/climbing/skiing trip in North America (Baja, Joshua Tree, Jackson Hole). Surfing and climbing felt good. Skiing felt bad.  I also started "popping" something in my SI joint. I would later learn that I had muscular imbalances from my recovery that were pulling my SI joint out of alignment (SUCK).

Months 15- 18 I was in HK climbing and working. I took a couple significant climbing trips to mainland China. To remedy the imbalance/SI Joint issue, my pt prescribed training with a gent who worked in the Ido Portal method. This was a game changer, and my knee/ SI joint all feel awesome when I do this training regularly (has been a part of my training through month 40!). During this time, I visited a friend in Hokkaido (the north island of Japan) for insane powder skiing. The swelling/pain was manageable but present. I have come to learn that skiing will be the crux for me.

Months 19-30 were spent living in San Francisco and commuting to Palo Alto. I rode my bike a lot, bouldered in the gym alot (still down climbing), and climbed in Yosemite. Yosemite blitzes hurt my knee. I would leave work at 8pm on Firiday, get to yosemite in the middle of the night, wake up at 5am hike a couple thousand vertical feet, climb all day, hike down a few thousand vertical feet, do the same thing on Sunday, and drive back to SF to work on Monday morning. My knee would consistently swell, and this was a bother and made me feel bad. (and yes, I must learn EVERYTHING by experience). Essential learning: consistent and progressive loading is the opposite of a Yosemite blitz.

Months 31-42: I moved back to Jackson Hole. Here are the notable activities in since begin back in the Tetons:
Some fall alpine climbing (knee swells on long descents)
Several backpacking trips for work (knee swells a little)
Backountry and resort skiing. I find backcountry skiing is much better for my knee. I am always swollen after a big day of resort skiing. In my new knee life I value powder above all.
I trained formally with Ido Portal: about 6x/week. This system of exercise makes my knee feel AWESOME.
I was a lab rat for a gym in town, Mountain Athlete, to beta test their big wall training program for climbing. I trained there 5 days a week for 6 weeks, and my knee felt pretty good. I put my work with Ido on hold to train with Mountain Athlete, and I don't think I would do that again. Ido's method is king for me.
I spent 10 days in British Columbia- 8 days traversing the Wapta Icefields and 2 days backcountry skiing in the huge terrain of Rogers Pass. This experience was a knee crusher. I felt at about 30% by my last days, and I think I will switch to AT/downhill skiing next year.  And, I really will only powder ski for good times in the trees, instead of gunning for big objectives.
Finally, 2 weeks ago I returned from a week of big wall climbing in Yosemite. My knee was ginormous at the end of this, feeling maybe at 10%.  I had my classic yosemite blitz, and then compounded it with all the extra weight needed to climb big walls (35# rack/ 90+ # haulbag= bad times for the Micro Fx spot).
I have been icing, ibu-ing, and mellowing out since returning from Yosemite, but it is hard to stay put.

I plan on returning to Yosemite in the fall to do my first big wall solo. I will spend the summer being consistent and progressive about building up to the weights that I will need to haul for the objective. I will also do Ido's program.

Total learning: everything must be- CONSISTENT and INCREMENTALLY PROGRESSIVE. It is essential for me to do Ido Portal's training. I must manage the fine balance of blitzing my knee. When the tipping point of swelling occurs, it takes awhile for it to come down. It is far better to not hit that range. If it really hurts- don't do it; figure something else out. I am learning to go with the flow of my knee rather than beat it into submission, and this has led to some really interesting physical investigations.

Well, I'll be surprised if anyone is still reading! But, holler if you have any questions or suggestions!

Have great days!