My ACL Recovery Story: Day 1 through Month 4

Tearing my ACL was one of the biggest eye openers of my life. I was just coming off of a competition prep where I managed to get down to a 4-5% bodyfat range, when my competition was abruptly cancelled 6 weeks short due to COVID19. Adapting to the circumstances and setting new goals, I went into a rebound diet with a goal of putting on lean mass while remaining as athletic as possible.

Being a bodybuilder and spending a vast majority of my time training in a weight room, I like to find ways to increase my endurance and athleticism outside, especially in the summer. During the Spring and throughout the Summer of 2020, my main sources of cardio was running and basketball. I always despised running growing up until I experienced my first runners high and the rest was history.

I started challenging myself using the Strava App, shooting to beat my previous time every time. I would run in total 3.65 miles at a time, running at roughly an 8 minute mile pace. Running the same distance 3 times a week, every other week. On weeks I wasn’t running, I would be playing basketball. Even though it was just pick up games, my competitive nature always had me giving 110%. Along with all of this cardio, I was still weight training at a high intensity 5 days a week, for roughly 2 hours per workout. This all accumulated to my downfall.

The day prior to tearing my ACL, I had a high intensity leg day. Working up to 365 pounds for 6 reps on barbell back squats. The leg day overall consisted of 35 sets and between 250-300 total reps. So, playing basketball after a leg day like that probably wasn’t the best idea. Essentially, I shocked my central nervous system so much, no amount of rest in that time span was going to have my legs recovered and ready to go that day.

I got to the court roughly 45 minutes before the rest of the crew showed up, to shoot around and loosen up. I remember experiencing multiple signals from my body that my legs weren’t ready, but I played through it anyway. Everyone that has played basketball with me before, knows my main strategy of scoring is driving to the hoop at full speed for the lay-up. At 5’ 11” and roughly 190 pounds, I took pride in having a 37 inch vertical, and wasn’t shy about using it. But on that day, it all came crashing down.

The day I tore my ACL, is a day that I will relive for the rest of my life. I completely tore my ACL in my right knee after trying to change directions while coming down from a lay up (I missed) in a pickup game of basketball. When I saw the ball roll off the rim behind me, I started to twist in the direction the ball was heading. After planting on my right foot, my twisting momentum continued. Which then was followed by a lot of crackling and a loud pop in my right knee. With a past riddled with injury, I knew something was wrong right away.

Being I’m 23 and in the best shape of my life, my adrenaline took over. I immediately wanted help off the ground and attempted to walk it off. The first step I took with my right foot, I knew my afternoon of playing basketball was over. I had zero stability through my right leg, like it was made of Jell-O. Shortly after, I got a ride back to my place and began icing.