Skiing After Knee Injury

Today we have a story from a person who tore their ACL skiing and is looking to return to the slopes this December.

I have been following your email and website, and it has helped. I have always been very active during all my working years as an accountant, I couldn’t wait for week-ends and vacations for hiking, biking, tennis, dancing, and my favorite skiing (down-hill ski racer).

Semi-retired, I was active as ever until January, 2012, a careless skier ran into me hard, cracking my left tibia (shinbone) and completely tearing my left ACL. I didn’t know the ACL was torn, and suspected the bone break to be only a bad bruise/sprain. I figured I would be back on skis in a week or so.

(Video of another skier tearing their ACL)

The first few days I just used R I C E and advil, without much relief. I saw the doctor after a week. The X-Ray clearly displayed the tibia break. It was the continued swelling and knee instability that occasioned the MRI and Torn ACL diagnosis. I had no idea what that meant, so I went to the internet.

The orthopedic doctor told me that I could wear a brace for the rest of my life, for my sports activities, or I could get the ACL replaced. As a 69 year old female — but very young for my age — I opted for the ACL replacement so I could return to my former activity level… without depending on a brace forever. I went with a cadaver ligament, to facilitate healing (no need to cut into my own ligaments).

The surgery was March 9, 2012. I was able to start with some physical therapy prior to the surgery, to get the left leg muscles moving as the break was healing. My doctor had me begin a rigorous course of physical therapy one day after the ACL replacement surgery. It was difficult and painful, but I followed my doctor’s orders and did everything my PT asked of me.

Jon, I have read through your emails and blogs, and there were things that helped me a lot. I don’t like to take meds, but thanks to you, the first few weeks, I made sure I took my pain meds on time, and did not wait for them to “wear off” before the next dose. I was adament about icing after PT home exercise, and made sure my bed and pillows were set up for comfort. I still keep a log of my knee and leg exercises, and expect to keep it up to stay strong as I get older.

The doctor and PT told me I am “way ahead of the curve”, even for women half my age. I am very flexible and I have no arthritis. It is now 5 months since the surgery, and I continue to work out, on my own. I ice the knee when I return from the gym because I really work it.

ACL Tear Skiing

I will continue to see the orthopedic doctor about every 2 or 3 months now, and I have to wear a knee brace for a few more months for my active sports — hiking, tennis, swing /quick step/ salsa. But without the brace, I can already walk miles, and I can also slow dance in low heels, no problems, without the brace. I will be back on skis this winter, yes wearing the brace until one year after the surgery is a requirement. But I will be racing downhill in December.

The Top 5 At Home Exercises
I did that helped get me walking 4 days after surgery

Click Here to see the exercises


  1. Skiing After Knee Surgery
    The above story is very similar to mine. I’m an active 56 year old woman who had a Ski accident on January 7th – Really heard a POP. As I couldn’t stand up because my knee felt unstable, I was rescued by the ski patrol and subsequently diagnosed by the doctor at the ski resort, inFrance. I was told to go home, start physical therapy and get a MRI to determine the extent of the damage. I had ACL reconstruction surgery mid-March – using my hamstring tendon from the same knee. Super results, by the way I live in Germany – . PT has gone well, no pain, no swelling after sport. I was back to mountaining biking this summer and would like to ski in December, which may be a bit early. The doctors have told me that the knee is so solid nothing can happen to it – I sure hope so! I’m still careful and don’t quite have 0% extension, more like 2-3%. I still need to work on bending as I am just over 123°. I work out at a medical fitness studio which is connected to the othopedic clinic where I had surgery so I feel confident they know what they’re doing. I’ll see what the doctor says in November, and will continue with a bit more PT.

  2. melynda schudrich says:

    I just had ACL surgery ast week- I’m 45 and I love doing everything that twists and turns. I’m a skier, rollerblades, volleyball, and karate. My ACL was torn in karate, last May, and not properly diagnised until the fall. I was told that “at my age”, I amy not want the surgery…but learned later, that was malarky.
    I haven’t started PT yet due to Xmas, but have been excercising. Thanks for all the encouragement.