As someone who has now bounced back from torn ACLs in both knees, River North’s Ashley Neiman is something of a layman's expert in what it takes to lead a normal life after a seemingly catastrophic injury.
When it comes to the recovery and rehabilitation process, the 24-year-old broke it up into three different parts.
"In the beginning stages (one to two weeks post surgery) I would do a lot to increase my range of motion," she said. "One thing we did often was for me to lie on my back with my feet against the wall. I would have to move my leg and foot up and down the wall. The goal in the beginning would be to get it to 90 degrees."
After that, she said her therapists focused on building up her strength.
"(They had me doing) exercises like standing on my injured leg on a moon shaped yoga ball to keep your balance and then as you progressed the physical therapist would throw a ball at you to increase the difficulty and balance," she said. "There were a lot of lunges, calf exercises, they had these mats that were slippery and we would have to slide back and forth. Think like ice skating or roller blading in place. That motion is one that builds all those muscles you cannot use when you have a torn ACL."
By the end, she said she was replicating a lot of the motions that made her a standout prep soccer player.
"When I was close to 100 percent, we would actually go outside and kick the ball around," she said. "I would run 10 minutes on an elliptical machine and have them watch my motions. (There was) a lot of lateral movement; think like when football players, especially offensive linemen, do drills to move laterally quickly, stuff like that."
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