3 – My ACL Journey – The weeks before surgery


I spent the next few weeks doing all the prehab things… squats, lunges, RDLs, BFR, and massively loaded my quads to make as much muscle gain as I could. I took a weeklong trip to Canada to spend some time with my family and work with USA Weightlifting at the NAOS2 competitions. This was going to be my last trip of the year since I was planning on having surgery soon after. My dad is a very slow walker with a chronic knee injury as well, so I thought keeping his pace was going to be easy.  

At this point, I had full knee ROM and was moving quite normally. The only pain I had was if I tried to hyperextend my knee or sit back on my heel with all my weight. We were crossing the street and my dad picked up his pace suddenly because there was a car coming. I quickly followed and I felt a huge pull into the back of my knee. The pain lasted over a minute and my family had to wait a second for me to recover. I thought I was doing pretty well up to that point. That was a humbling moment for me and my knee…my Dad’s knee was in better shape than mine. 

Being the stubborn person that I am, I told my family I was fine and we continued the day going to the Capistrano Suspension Bridge, climbing stairs, going up and down hills, walking miles in the forest… and at the end of the day I knew I needed surgery. My knee was more swollen than it’s ever been, I felt unstable when walking downhill, and moving too quickly obviously flared things up. 

I looked cute that day though….and nobody can tell that my knee was F’d. 


I have been working with the USA Weightlifting Medical Team since 2017 and it is my absolutely favorite thing to do. I get to reunite with old friends, meet new friends, and work with weightlifting athletes! When there is spare time, we usually teach each other new things, and this type of collaborative learning is the best thing EVER. 

During this event, most of the medical team were Sports Docs and Fellows and they all brough their portable ultrasounds. They used me as a demo did ultrasound on my knee to show me where all my swelling was.  

This is when I learned that most of the swelling was sitting above my kneecap, in the quad tendon. When I flexed my quads, the fluid traveled from the quads into the joint and posterior knee, causing pain in the back of my knee when I hyperextend or sit on my heel. IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW. So instead of icing the back of my knee where it hurts, I started icing the top of my quad and the swelling went down immediately. Major clinical pearl and something I will tell all my future patients.  

Thank you Dr. Mike Galbraith, Dr. Alex Jacobsen, Dr. Erin Barnes, Dr. Kendra Kemmet, and Dr. Chelsea Stanford. 

Black (water-swelling), white is layers of tissue quad on top. 

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