On the Road to Recovery: Chilling Out to Heal Better

Surgery recovery can really screw with your mind. On the one hand, progress is painfully slow. After two weeks spent mostly sitting in the lazy boy, aside from doing the meager exercises that qualify as “physical therapy” twice per day and hobbling to the fridge for a beer, I’m still faced with many more days of binging on video games.

On the other side of the equation, progress from one day to another seems startling. “Did you see that?!” I exclaimed to Summer. “I just lifted my heel off the bed! I couldn’t do that yesterday!” Motor function, strength, and range of motion consistently return, getting noticeably better ever single day, and yet 16 days in I still can’t do a full pedal stroke.

One thing I’ve learned from my second go-round with ACL rehab is that when you have expectations or a drive to get to a certain physical fitness level as soon as possible, it does provide you with some motivation to do your daily exercises and put yourself through pain in the hopes that one day soon, you’ll be able to return to the sport that you love.

But when you have this type of drive, this burning desire to be better, to heal quickly, it also makes the process feel even painfully slower.

While I can never quite kick the drive to get back on the bike and get out in the mountains, which is why I’m going through this mess in the first place, in this second stint I feel like I’ve set lower standards and more modest goals than I did two years ago. Chilling out, trying not to be as driven when the drive gets me nowhere, is proving to make for a better rehab experience all around. Some days still feel dark, but once I've realize that health and recovery can’t be rushed, it relieves the pressure to perform just a little bit more.

The one major catch in this “chill and heal” strategy? Chilling just creates more time to hatch big plans…