• 03-01-2010
    Mike Aswell
    Partial ACL Tear -- Flats?
    I'm curious for others' opinions on this.

    I found out this morning that I have a grade 3 partial or full tear of my left ACL from a skiing injury. 10 years ago, I had my right ACL and lateral and medial meniscus reconstructed. So I've been down this road before. The previous right knee injury, however, was much more traumatic and I had tons of instability.

    With this new injury, my ortho (who I trust) says I still have reasonable stability and he'd like to see me at least make an attempt at rehabbing and using a brace rather than surgery. I wasn't excited about surgery, so I am on board with this idea.

    So, my question is this...should I ride flats this season? I'm very comfortable riding clipless, but can definitely see how they would increase the potential for further issues. Once I was done with rehab last time and cleared for riding I went straight back to clipless b/c my surgeon said my knee was good to go. This time, not opting for reconstruction, I have some reservations about riding clipless. Anyone have any experience with this?

    Also, does anyone have any success stories rehabbing a partial or full ACL tear without surgery? B/c if I am going to ultimately need surgery, I'd rather just get it now.
  • 03-02-2010
    G'day Mike. You don't need a functioning ACL to ride a bike. In my work as a physio, rehabing ACL recons post surgery, I often use stationary bikes as part of the rehab program. In Australia one of our female XC champions ruptured her ACL and was riding once the swelling settled. Cadel Evans also did his ACL after the 2008 Tour de France and went on to ride the road race at the Olympics that year.

    So ride the flats initially then do you usual once the initial inflammation from the injury settles. Good luck.
  • 03-02-2010
    Mike Aswell
    Thank you for the response. More directly though, what I am asking is, assuming it is a severe partial tear (rather than full -- they can't tell 100% from the MRI) is it more risky to ride clipless? In other words, am I more likely to finish the job (i.e. fully tear the ACL) riding clipless?
  • 03-02-2010
    Hi Mike, Torn or ruptured ACL's often occur when there is a hyperextension force or twisting force appllied to the knee with the foot fixed and upper leg mobile. So in theory you could rupture your ACL if your binding force onto the cleats are too great not allowing an easy release of the foot. The type of riding is probably not the problem (except if you stack) so my suggestion is ride where ever you want but not clipped in - ie: use flat pedals. Cheers.
  • 03-15-2010
    Mike Aswell
    Thanks for the reply. I hadn't really thought about the float thing, but it's a really valid point.

    I actually did go ahead and order flats about a week ago. We aren't into riding season yet where I am, but I have a trainer in my basement and I threw them on. So far they have not bothered either one of my knees, but I've only worked out twice on them.

    My first (right) knee injury -- not trying to be discouraging -- took me years to truly recover from. I think the ACL reconstruction played a bigger role than the meniscus, though. They used my hamstring tendons to construct the new ligament and I had problems with my hamstring for 2-3 years. The best advice I got with either knee is to stay on top of your conditioning. Keep your supporting muscles in the best possible shape and it will really help your knee feel better and help you to avoid re-injury and/or new injuries. Says the guy who just tore his other ACL. Both of my knees were skiing injuries, which seems to be high risk for the knees, but I'll never stop mt biking or skiing...:)
  • 04-23-2010
    I've been riding for 4 years with partial tears in both knees.
    I'm fine using my egg beaterss.
    What really causes swelling for me is the hike a bike
    so I avoid these trails if possible and I'm fine.
    I've been doing some high rep weightlifting this winter (bodypump)
    and my legs are such stronger
    I am going to continue with this through the summer
    for me the added benefit of increasing hamstring strength by using the eggs is
    worth the crash risk
  • 10-14-2011
    Hi, you can read about how I tore my ACL here:

    goo.gl / Gf9Vd

    Stay safe!