I have been recovering from surgery for three weeks. I was suffering from compartment syndrome in both shins. Compartment syndrome occurs when the muscle outgrows the fascia, or protective covering, of the muscle. As blood moves into the muscle during exertion the tight fascia restricts blood flow and causes a lot of pain. To combat this condition I removed most of the fascia from five muscles in both shins. I also had extensive scar tissue removed from crucial nerves located just above my feet. The surgery took longer than planned because I had far more scar tissue in my shins than expected. The longer surgery means a longer recovery.
I decided to stay in Vail Colorado for a month after surgery so that I could rehabilitate my legs at the Steadman Hawkins clinic. This is the same facility that many pro-ahtletes have chosen to rehab injuries including A-Rod who is currently working to heal his hip. I have been sure to wear my Red Sox tee-shirt nearly every day.
I started my rehab the day after surgery with swelling massage, and range of movement exercises. As I have progressed the massage has gotten deaperer and my exercises more challenging. Thera-band work was introduced at two weeks and low weight leg presses were added a few days later. Most recently I started one-legged balance drills in skating and classic positions. My physical therapist is a cross-country skier, so we have been able to work together to create very specific balance drills.
Tomorrow will be my third post-op appointment with my surgeon. Hopefully he will be happy enough with my progress to recommend that I start pool-workouts. You know I am getting ansy and bored when I am looking forward to aqua-jogging.
Though this experience is one that I could have done without I am very happy with the progress that I have made. The restrictive fascia was affecting my flexibility. Since its removal my range of motion has increased allowing for more shin angle. I am very much looking forward to adapting this new mobility to my technique. I can’t wait to ski… but I have to.
Kris Freeman is a longtime member of the US Ski Team and the top-ranked distance skier in the United States.