37-40 WEEKS POST OP
With all the work that you have put in, you should be feeling really confident and strong in your body. There are always going to be questions, nerves and doubts but don’t forget what you have put in the last 9 months and the massive training block that you have done. Physiotherapists, strength coaches, teammates and coaches will be critical in this stage to give you feedback on how you’re moving and if you’re ready, but ultimately it will come down to yourself and how you’re feeling in your body.
If you are really unsure then speaking with a psychologist or even someone else who has returned from an ACL reco can be really helpful in getting back to playing. You might feel right on top of things but if you talk to someone who has experienced it, they might say just one or two things that really stick with you, that you can relate to and could help you just by that 1% more that you need. Once again, you will and should feel stronger and better in areas where you used to have some glaring deficiencies and this will only give you more confidence.
This is the month leading up to your comeback. As for all of your rehab, you should have a good plan in place. This will allow you to get your head around what you want to do and achieve and hopefully keep the nerves down a little as it can be daunting. In my experiences, we have looked to taper off with the training in the last week or two to allow my body and mind to feel as fresh and ready as possible leading in to coming back. The fitness is still very important but you should have had a really good block underneath you. You have to make sure that before you return to sport, you need to have ticked the key movements off:
- Change of direction
- Jump landing
- Being tackled
- Hitting the ground
- Training under fatigue
If you have struggled to tick these off then you just have to give it a bit more time and be patient – you’ve taken 9 months so far, so what is another week or two in the scheme of things. Make sure you do it right because you want to get back but you need to get back and stay back. Coming back is the first big tick of many so there is no need to rush. If you do not feel completely confident then take the time till you feel it’s right. You will absolutely be nervous but a good lesson we learnt and applied was that when you feel ready, ideally you play a couple of weeks later to feel like you have ticked everything off and some more.
Have a plan in place about limited game time and week by week progressions. You just need to get through your first game or games, there shouldn’t be any pressure and there will be no expectations from anyone else for you to perform straight away. It’s all about getting the repetitions in and getting that match fitness back.
Just enjoy yourself and try and take as much in as possible because it will be a pretty special game that you will never forget. Enjoy it because you deserve it because of all the hard work you have put in and then take a moment or some time to reflect on your comeback and be really proud of your achievement.
I wish you all the best in your recovery, to getting back to playing and staying back playing.