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Returning to golf after ACL surgery


73 replies to this topic

#1 jdubyapepper

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 09:32 AM

It's been 4 months sine I had ACL surgery with a patellar tendon graft.  I was just cleared to return to golf.  I can't seem to make myself release the club after impact now.  

Before surgery my handicap hovered around 3-5 and now I'm in the 90's.  

I'm looking for some info on beating the mental barrier that is keeping me from returning to my pre-surgery golf swing.


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#2 One_Putt_Blunder

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 10:42 AM

Only advice I can give you is be patient, it takes time to come all the way back after major surgery. Keep up on your pt. Don't set your expectations too high at the start. When I started to come back to golf after surgery I just went to the range once a week for about a month prior to hitting the course. I wanted to start rebuilding that trust in my swing that my new hips could handle it, and I would be able to swing confidently once I hit the course.

Just go out and play for the fun of playing don't worry about score for now
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#3 BenR

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 10:59 AM

Returning from an ACL is 100% mental. I've been there, twice. Give yourself time, it'll come back to you. Was it your right knee or left knee? Are you right or left side dominant?

Maybe grab your wedge and work on 50 - 100 yard shots. They should be easy enough that you'll feel confident turning through the ball but not aggressive enough that you've got your mind on your knee.

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#4 Par Fore

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 11:03 AM

Have you tried hitting balls your brace on?  I have had both sides reconstructed and doing things with my brace really helped make me "feel" like I could do things like I used to.  It is amazing at how unstable you feel after surgery, even knowing that your knee is stable your mind just won't let you turn on that joint like you used to.  Good luck, I feel your pain.

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#5 dwboston

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 11:59 AM

I can empathize.  I had a torn meniscus 3 1/2 years ago in my right knee (obviously not as bad as an ACL).  I'm LH, so it's my front leg.  I had the knee scoped and the torn piece of the meniscus was removed.  I was able to resume hitting balls after about 4 weeks and playing another month after that.  It took me a while to get comfortable moving my weight to my front leg.  Probably not what you want to hear, but it was around a year for me before the knee felt normal and I wasn't afraid to swing normally.  If you've done your PT and the doctor says it's OK, then take it slow and don't expect to be all the way back right away.   You'll get there, just give yourself time to heal....and work on your short game.  Good luck.

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#6 Johnny

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 12:05 PM

I've played 1 round.. I'm 3 months post op myself (I went donor route) and also missing a large portion of my meniscus (left knee/right handed)... I was a 4.9 when I had the injury and shot 78 last week.. lost no distance, but my irons are rusty. Wore a DonJoy playmaker brace because off the fairway my course is dangerous with uneven surfaces.

you just have to go for it.. I told myself not to hold back. I was hitting balls 1 month post op wearing a DonJoy carbon fiber hard brace.. (obviously holding back at that point, being early on)..just wedges to knock the rust off.
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#7 jimmies78

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 02:14 PM

I had a acl recon on my front leg after a rugby injury - took me a year to get back playing (rugby) but had to give up once our first child ws on his way and I wanted to make sure I'm going to be able to run around with him when I'm 40 (currently 34).....so I then took up golf 3 years ago

One thing I did was toe out my front leg alittle to reduce the twisting force on the knee on follow through. I have found my knee to be very stable. I really helps to build up the strength in the leg.

In the UK they do not do patella grafts as it seems to have more complications down the road (hope this isn't the case for you) and I had the hamstring graft. My knee is solid 7 years later and the hamstrings left in the leg compensate very well. In fact my left leg is my strongest leg.

Don't rush yourself but once you have no pain from running on grass you should be good to go - but I must stress that building strength in the leg/knee area will really help you out now and in the future

good luck

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#8 limoric

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Posted 04 May 2013 - 01:29 AM

I'm 6 weeks out come monday; I'm 39, a 4 cap and went with the hamstring tendons; left leg, righty. I was hitting a 6 iron into a net in the backyard last week and again today. I'm just swinging about 75%. Big difference from one week to the next, which is encouraging. My goals is to be back on the course within 4 months. I keep reading that return to golf is 6-8 months. I know everyone is different, but I just don't see it taking that long. I was on the leg press with an EMS machine 4 weeks out and have been doing PT in the gym 4-5X per week. I'm working with a PT who is also a strength and conditioning coach.

Good to see some guys back in 3-4 months...keep the progress coming; I really don't think there is a perfect science to recovery. They use to put your knee in a cast way back when. They only discovered new methods of physio as a result of some patients breaking the rules without consequence...turns out they healed better...

Maybe try a lesson. I'm going to hook up with my coach as soon as I'm ready...I don't want to wire in any bad habits...

Edited by limoric, 04 May 2013 - 01:37 AM.


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#9 wldchld22

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 02:40 PM

Hey OP and others,

How is everyone progressing? I'm 4 months off and just starting extensions curls and some jump training.

I did the patellar tendon graft which takes longer. Any tips? Stories of your experiences so far now that time has passed?


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#10 butch33611

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Posted 04 January 2014 - 03:25 PM

Many years ago I tore my ACL playing softball. When I got cleared to play again I was pretty nervous about it. I did all the rehab and it felt fine but it took some time before I trusted it enough to really play again. Not so much swinging the bat but running the bases and making that pivot on the corner of the bags. After a month or so I began to really press it more and more without any problems and soon I just forgot about it.

I definitely get where your coming from but like others have said the Doc knows his business. Trust him and swing the club.

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#11 Tanner25

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 10:35 AM

Sorry, do not mean to threadjack. How do you know when you have something torn in your knee? I tried swinging with my rt foot down (rightie) at impact (just a few practice swings) and have some light pain for the last two weeks in my rt knee. I can put full weight on it with no limping. I actually went through this last time about 2 yrs ago with Sevam1's screwgee tip of the rt foot into the ground at address. At that time, I had a cat scan and there were no tears. I'd hate to do that again if it is really something that will improve on it's own.

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#12 sprcoop

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 06:12 PM

I knew when I heard a loud POP come out of my right knee like snapping your fingers really loud.  Then it hurt.

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#13 dwboston

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 06:39 PM

In my case (torn meniscus) my knee started clicking as I was walking up a hill to the green.  It just felt weird after that for the remaining 5 holes I had left.  When I got home, I could barely walk.  Had surgery a month or so later.
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#14 skraly

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Posted 05 January 2014 - 07:51 PM

View Postjdubyapepper, on 07 April 2013 - 09:32 AM, said:

It's been 4 months sine I had ACL surgery with a patellar tendon graft.  I was just cleared to return to golf.  I can't seem to make myself release the club after impact now.  

Before surgery my handicap hovered around 3-5 and now I'm in the 90's.  

I'm looking for some info on beating the mental barrier that is keeping me from returning to my pre-surgery golf swing.
I have had several knee surgeries on my lead knee, including an acl repair and the last (I hope) being a total knee replacement on that same knee.  After my acl repair I was fitted for a custom acl brace to wear during strenuous activity.  I assume you have the same.  Even though it should not be needed for golf I suggest wearing it anyway, at least at first, until you feel more secure with the repaired knee.  As time passes you will accept that the repaired knee is safe to use for your activities.  Prior to my knee replacement I was about a 2 hcp.  After rehab and returning to golf I was able to end last season at a 3.5 hcp.  I have lost a little yardage off of my woods and irons but nothing that isn't manageable.  Just try to be patient with yourself.  Full, complete recovery from acl repair is usually quoted at 10-12 months.  With time you will round back into form.

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#15 clamberto

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Posted 11 January 2014 - 03:59 PM

I had a broken tib/fib and dislocated ankle.  After surgery no walking for 6 months let alone picking up a club.  After a year I started hitting 9-3's in my garage working on fundamentals.  It's definitely slow and steady.

So if there is a silver lining, this is a great time to rebuild any fundamentals.


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#16 wldchld22

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 09:57 AM

Played my first two rounds since August. I have always noticed that coming back from a layoff is a perfect time to commit to something new that you have been thinking about.

I have a very flat swing and I got to a single digit primarily playing a fade. As I recovered these past few months I concentrated on just standing by a mirror and checking my position at the top.

So far so good. Shot an 82 coming back and feel pretty confident that good things are coming.

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#17 jihunyu

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 11:04 PM

I've had my ACL and meniscus repaired on the left knee, and I DISAGREE that it's 100% mental. A lot of it was physical too. I was using crutches for 2 months, and went to the range for the first time 8 months after surgery. It wasn't just the knee that was weak, but the entire body was, especially the ankles and lower back from having put a lot of the weight on one side.

Before you try golfing again, I'd say strengthen the other parts of your body too and get your balance back. Looking back, I wouldn't have tried to rush myself into golf. Because it was my leading knee, I didn't have any balance after impact, was afraid to put weight on the left side, and I could feel my left ankle wobbly. You will end up changing your swing for the worse to compensate for the weak knee. I used my arms only, no hip rotation at all, and as a result, I developed the Over the Top swing, which I had to fix later on (which was even more difficult than trying to play golf again post recovery).

So the swing itself was mostly physical. For me, the mental part had nothing to do with the swing actually. It was all on the course, like trying to walk down into a steep bunker, I was afraid my knee would buckle up.
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#18 Brianm423

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Posted 03 February 2014 - 02:15 PM

I'm beginning week 8 post-op of ACL & meniscus.  Had a slight meniscal tear in my left knee from high school baseball almost 13 years ago (I'm 30).  Didn't require surgery at the time, but over the years I guess it just got worse to the point where I was getting constant pain in my knee from running.  Did 3 months of therapy pre-op which did nothing.  Doctor finally scheduled an MRI which confirmed torn meniscus and "weird" looking ACL (Dr's exact words).  During surgery to repair meniscus it was confirmed my ACL was completely torn.  Hamstring graft was used.  Doctor said my ACL was torn for a while by the looks of it.  Says full recovery will be 6 months average.

Hopefully I'm back on the course this summer.  Will start hitting balls in the backyard once it warms up.

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#19 jor17

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Posted 15 February 2014 - 06:22 AM

I'm 3 weeks removed from ACL reconstruction in my left knee with hamstring graft (right handed swing so lead leg) Been a tough 3 weeks, but PT is slowly improving and flexion exercises aren't as excruciating.

My doctor said 2 months I can be chipping and putting, at 3 months I can swing irons and 4 months no limitations.

That's the general timeframe I'm sticking to, although I live in NY so 4 months after my surgery would be Memorial Day weekend. Not so bad

does anyone find using their ACL brace while getting back on the course help your mental confidence?
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#20 jor17

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 03:38 PM

anyone have thoughts?

Edited by jor17, 18 February 2014 - 03:39 PM.

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#21 DevilDog

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Posted 18 February 2014 - 04:08 PM

 jdubyapepper, on 07 April 2013 - 09:32 AM, said:

It's been 4 months sine I had ACL surgery with a patellar tendon graft.  I was just cleared to return to golf.  I can't seem to make myself release the club after impact now.  

Before surgery my handicap hovered around 3-5 and now I'm in the 90's.  

I'm looking for some info on beating the mental barrier that is keeping me from returning to my pre-surgery golf swing.

I have gone through the same after I had total knee replacement (I have left done first 2 years ago and right just 12 weeks ago).  My mind thought my knee would explode for a while.  I hit a lot of wedges at first so I wasn't torquing the left knee too much at first.  Got some confidence then that it would be ok.   You will have to work it out on the range mentally first then try the course.   Build up to your full game and don't try to get it all back at once.

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#22 zerix

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Posted 19 February 2014 - 01:03 AM

I don't wanna get offtopic too much here but how are you guys tearing your ACLs?

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#23 jgood

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Posted 22 February 2014 - 05:22 AM

I am having my ACL repaired this Weds 2/26/14.  ACL and Meniscus w/ a Hammy graft.  I am hoping that I can start playing by Mid-June.  I have always been a quick healer, but I am also a little bit longer in the tooth.  I know this is a major surgery.  I recovered from TJ a few months ahead of schedule about 6-7 years ago.  

I do plan on my chipping and putting to be a lot better around the green since that is the only thing I will be doing for the next few months.

I tore mine playing soccer. It was kind of a freak thing.  It was nothing I have not done a million times.  I felt a small pop, went down for a second.  I went to the sideline jogged for a few minutes and continued playing.  I figured I tore my meniscus.  I left for Disney the next morning and walked all week on it.  I never had the wobbles or anything, just a little soreness.  When I went to the doctor he said I tore my meniscus, but he wasn’t sure about my ACL.  Had the MRI and then he told me I tore the ACL in half.  Funny thing is, I partially tore my right ACL and it hurt 100x worse than this one.

I am more upset because spring is right around the corner.

So here is to pushing my body in PT as much as possible for the next 4-6 months!

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#24 gabh

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Posted 23 February 2014 - 07:23 AM

If it's left or lead knee, allow it to straighten thru impact. Don't snap it straight, just allow it to straighten short of locking or snapping. This will ease the pain if any.

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#25 jgood

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Posted 01 March 2014 - 11:47 PM

Aftermath.

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#26 limoric

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 10:45 AM

 zerix, on 19 February 2014 - 01:03 AM, said:

I don't wanna get offtopic too much here but how are you guys tearing your ACLs?

Skiing

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#27 limoric

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Posted 31 March 2014 - 11:27 AM

Progress report.

I posted at 6 weeks post-surgery. I'm now 53 weeks out; while I've been playing golf regularly now since 6 months post-surgery, I'm not 100%. The Handicap is off only slightly, but I'm a lot streakier; I play off a 4 now, but I've posted some scores in the high 80's and low 90's. The only thing that is better post-surgery is my putting (I putted from week 2 every day in the living room, still do).

A few mistakes and regrets.

I came back to golf a few months too early and should have continued PT at the same intensity; I did rehab 3-4x per week for 7 months; I should have kept it up for a year. Because I came back a little early, my body was pretty unbalanced, I did not anticipate all the back strains and muscle tweaks. I'm not sure going the hamstring route was the best option; my left hamstring is noticeably weaker than the right and I've been straining it pretty regularly. The doc assured me that I would not miss the tendons, but I think I do, I also think a weak hamstring has contributed to my back issues. My back issues have also prevented me from working out regularly since about 8 months post-surgery. My swing changed, I became more handsy as a result of not being able to plant that left leg as well; this led to timing issues and some frustration. I've sorted this out in the last week with a lesson and no longer take the club back with the hands...back to a one piece takeaway.

Prognosis

My Hamstring hurts from minor pulls a few times per week, as does my left calf, but I do think they will continue to improve. I walk a course several times per week that has 1000 feet of elevation (most in the best of shape take a cart), so it does put strain on my hamstrings, calves and back more so than a flat course. I will likely sort out my back issues as I continue to play, stretch and get back into a strength training routine. I can still feel the ACL, as it was put in tight to ensure 100% flexion post-surgery. I've been told it usually takes 18 months for the new tendon to heal completely. I was on the golf course with another good player and skier the other day who told me it took him 2 years to be confident in his knee post-surgery...that was a boost to my spirit.

The one positive so far; my knees no longer hurt; they hurt prior to injury for a few years, especially the left knee. I have no pain in either knee anymore, just the rest of the body LOL!!!

I'm fairly confident 2014 will be a good golf season where I'll regain form and put this behind me.
.

Edited by limoric, 31 March 2014 - 11:27 AM.


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#28 jgood

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 05:37 AM

I am about 5 weeks post.  I am walking with no crutches(@ 3wks), and doing PT 2 times a week(then everyday 2x at home).  I was told that I wouldnt be golfing until June/July and thats because they are holding me back.  The big thing is making sure the bone grows over the tendon which they claim takes 12 weeks(min).

My plan is playing by the end of May.  I have just chipping and putting for the past week or so.

Ive got the itch and it sucks!

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#29 TheCityGame

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Posted 02 April 2014 - 07:42 AM

I've had ACL done. Left knee. I'm a righty.

I think some other ACL post-ops will know what I'm talking about when I say this. . .you can do a lot of PT, get lifting weights again, get running again, get flexible again. . .but for a LONG time, there's just something that doesn't quite feel right. It's like you've lived your whole life with one exact feel, and now it's just off a little.

I'm sure that physically, to a doctors eye, everything look fine, so people will say "it's all mental". But there's still something that makes the knee feel "not quite mine". Sorry I don't have better words for it. If you've experienced it, maybe you know what I mean. So, when I hear an athlete say he wants to keep sitting (like Derrick Rose) even though the doctors clear him, I sympathize.

Also. . .I've broken left tib/fib. I've got screws and rods in there. Once that was healed. . .boom, it was healed. Felt the same as before. I'm 10 years out from ACL surgery and I still think I don't entirely trust it sometimes.
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#30 limoric

limoric

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Posted 07 April 2014 - 01:49 AM

 TheCityGame, on 02 April 2014 - 07:42 AM, said:


I think some other ACL post-ops will know what I'm talking about when I say this. . .you can do a lot of PT, get lifting weights again, get running again, get flexible again. . .but for a LONG time, there's just something that doesn't quite feel right. It's like you've lived your whole life with one exact feel, and now it's just off a little.


I think your body changes. If you're a decent player, it take years to groove a swing which your body has been built around. I had a massive amount of muscle atrophy in my left leg, partly due to the fact that my surgery was 6 weeks post injury. I was not 100% going in and definitely took longer to rehab as a result. Because I couldn't keep up my regular weight training routine, my right leg slowly caught up with the left. 1 year later, I'm 10 lbs lighter with the same body fat, my legs and gluts are noticeably smaller, all my jeans are baggier. My swing has been adjusting for a year and it will likely continue to for another 6-12 months as I put some mass back on.

If I had it to do over again, I would have done PT pre-surgery until my left leg was near 100%, it would have shortened the time it took to put the mass back on post-surgery...


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