Skiers often pick up a knee injury at some stage.
After treatment, healing and rehabilitation, the next stages of the journey back to skiing involve:
Training to regain physical function under load followed by
Training to regain fitness.
Before building muscle mass, it’s important to re-establish your balancing ability on the recovering leg. Otherwise, our bodies can try to cheat, reducing the load on the recovering leg throughout each day. With that in place to a reasonable extent, regaining muscle mass is certainly possible. The best practice is to seek professional guidance and a structured programme.
Here’s an outline of a process that I’ve used myself.
Retraining your leg muscles involves squats and variations on the theme, such as step-ups and cycling. I enjoy cycling, so that’s what I do.
A modulated gym - based program might involve:
• Step ups,
including slow 'step downs’, so that the leg is still working in this phase (NB step machines might not allow for this, so you might need to use a bench, or indeed an actual step)
◦ ideally stepping onto a cushioned mat, to protect your joints
◦ Progressing to carrying a light kettle bell, then a slightly heavier kettle bell, etc.
◦ Perhaps increasing the height of the step over time.
ideally in a squat frame, or perhaps a leg press machine, though this changes the angle at the hip and so the way the whole body coordinates.
◦ Again the theme is - progressively increasing the load over time,
▪ i.e. increasing the weight used
▪ And the number of repetitions per batch
▪ And the number of batches in a session
The actual values you use and how they change over time would best be advised by a trainer who works with you regularly, of course.
to warm up and cool down
One other principle
that has helped me is the consideration of load values and the range of flexion/extension movement used.
There are two useful components to this:
• our knee joints are endangered if we squat deeply with heavy loads
◦ so I only squat//leg press with heavy loads, through relatively shallow angles
▪ i.e. from legs slightly bent to legs almost fully extended
◦ when I squat/leg press deeply, as I must, to develop effective strength through a large range of movement, I use lighter loads
◦ and I use medium loads when I squat/leg press through a moderate range
• the muscle directly above the inside of the knee (vastus medialis) does a lot of its work in the final 15 to 20 degrees of extension
◦ so work these muscles by extending almost fully (not completely, though, to avoid injury through locking out the joint)
◦ they can be targeted by relatively shallow squats/leg presses
Keep at your programme, and you’ll make progress.
Consider using a protein recovery shake after exercise to make sure your body has the resources it needs to make the adaptations.
Working out is good, I hope you enjoy it.
Other articles on this subject include: