As a member of the “ACL Rehab Club”, I have a personal interest in ACL Rehabilitation, particularly how skiers can safely manage their return to skiing.
For most people the psychological aspect of getting back on ski’s is fraught with uncertainty, not least the fear of damaging the ACL again and undoing the hard rehab work to this point.
Looking back at my rehab diary I was back on skis after about 20 weeks and back in the alps after about 7 months. Although I made a fast return to skiing, I had my concerns and tried to manage my return to skiing in a sensible way.
Based on my experience I’m now helping other skiers do the same.
The first thing is to agree the target with your physio (and perhaps surgeon), and only reach for your skies when they are happy you are strong enough.
Once back on ski’s my strategy is to re build balance, propreoception, confidence and gradually speed, starting with the simplest flat land exercises. Choosing an very quiet slope, starting very slowly on the flat, and gradually building up from there as appropriate.
I recently helped a friend, Mark, through this process.
Phase 1 and I used our local dry slope during an empty session to start the process. While plastic slopes do cause you some apprehension, the beauty of the approach is that it allows a slow and gradual building of movement and speed in a controlled way. An empty slope means that fear of collision is much reduced, and as a coach i could manage the progress in conjunction with feedback from Mark. We called it a day after about an hour and a half, working up to some gentle snow ploughing.
Phase 2 involved a trip to a snowdome during an off peak session a week or so later. Mark warmed up off slope and we started of with a few runs off the beginners ramp, and with building confidence we were soon skiing off the top.
In my own skiing, I’m super focused on skiing ‘centered and balanced’ to avoid any tendency to be ‘back’ on my heals, especially in difficult conditions. Attempting to recover from a slow, backwards is a classic ACL injury mechanism and how I managed to damage my own.
‘Centered and balanced’ was the mantra for the majority of the 3.5hr session and has set Mark up for his upcoming season in the Alps.