Self-Healing MCL Sprain – Part II: Home Recovery

| December 12, 2013 | 5 Replies

A quick synopsis of my situation.. after a slip in a wet soccer field and a series of soccer/tennis matches i ended up suffering from an MCL sprain (probably Grade I) that was making it almost impossible even to jog (find more here). This brought memories  of a traumatic experience of a really serious patellar chondropathy i faced 4 years ago! Unfortunately the experience with 3 orthopedics was completely negative (which obviously doesn’t mean orthopedics are not useful – a good orthopedic works miracles, but i wasn’t lucky enough). So I decided to work on my MCL sprain recovery on my own!

Here i’m going to describe my recovery plan that includes a few tricky points.. first thing i did was to search online, in order to find natural recovery options that didn’t include rest or drugs. Listen carefully – you shouldn’t rely on whatever you find after a random Google search. It’s crucial that you evaluate the information you get and check it again and again in multiple, reliable websites before you apply it practically! Once again i need to highlight that an expert in chiropractice/orthopedics/physiotherapy can definitely provide a good/safe recovery plan, probably much better than my plan!

My MCL Sprain Recovery Plan

After 2 days of research my plan was ready. I was going to follow:

  • A homework session of  warm-up/strengthening exercises/stretching/ice-therapy, 3 or 4 times per day
  • A rehab/strengthening routine in the gym, 2-3 times per week. The routine was including exercises by means of a belt (focusing on knee stability) and quads/calves weight lifting exercises (focusing on stretghtening muscles). In addition, after Day 10 i cowardly tried some jogging/running on the treadmill.

I followed a combo of the aforementioned routines for almost 2 weeks and let me make it clear, it was a time consuming situation requiring tons of self discipline (especially the duration of the home tasks was almost 3  hrs/day), but it was proved to be totally worthwhile. Let’s describe each part of my routine in detail:

The “HomeWork” Part

The Homework part of my recovery plan probably sounds simple and easy but as i mentioned above you need to be extremely persistent in order to accomplish it!  The photos below will help you fully understand what I describe in the following lines. So the home routine i was following during the recovery period was:

  • Warm up – jogging in place for 8′ while normal jogging was painful – i tried some normal jogging inside the house later, when this was not painful anymore. No need to notice that warm up was a necessary part before each of the following
  • Stregthening exercises  to support calves (photo 1), quads (photo 2) and abductors muscles (photo 3)! Probably hamstring exercises would also be beneficial but i neglected that! This part was including 3 sets of each of the exercises shown in the photos (with 20 reps each), once per day! Obviously warm-up and ice-therapy, before and after, was absolutely necessary so I used to attach this part in one of the four daily warm-up/stretching/ice-therapy sessions in order to save time! I was applying this routine for the first 3 days and replaced it with  the much more intensive gym stretgthening/rehabilitation exercises since day 4.
  • Stretching 
    • passive/static quads stretches (2 different stretches: kneeling -photo 4- and standing -photo 5-) – after the first 4 days i included  a PNF version of the kneeling stretch. For more quad stretches click this
    • passive/static hamstring stretch (photo 6) – i was also applying a dynamic version of the specific stretch. For more hamstring stretches click this
    • passive/static calves stretch (photo 7) – i was also applying an active version of the specific stretch. For more calves stretches click this

                    Things to Consider about Stretching

    •  Before you try any of the aforementioned stretches you should carefully read our stretching guide.
    • All passive/static and active/static stretches should be hold for 30” while breathing properly.
    • The PNF quad stretch  includes a sequence of passive/static stretch (25”) – isometric stretch (10”) – relax (2-3”) – deeper passive stretch (20”).
    • Pain was a really useful measure for a safe application of my stretching routine. For example PNF stretching was a bit painful in the very beginning so i didn’t dare to apply it.. 4 days later i checked again and noticed that pain during PNF stretching disappeared so i added this stretch in my routine. Also the depth of each stretch was determined considering pain as my main criterion.. i was stretching till the point of slight irritation and this was a golden rule for me!
  • Ice Therapy – Putting frozen compress to my MCL for 15′-20′ was another essential part strictly following every stretching/exercising session.

A Mistake in my Plan

While my MCL was in pain i first thought that stretching this ligament would also be benefitial. So i “invented” my own MCL stretch, an uncomfortable passive/static stretch you can see on photo 8 (the arrow shows the spot that i was stretching). I still have not enough information on how exactly stretching works on ligaments (should read studies on that asap) but in my case i had the sense that this stretch was making things worse! This sense in addition with the total absence of online info on “stretches focusing on Medial Collateral Ligament” and the thought that my physio-guru never told me apply something like a “patella stretch” when facing my patellar chondropathy made me abandon this stretch after the first 2 days!


All the photos below are taken in my home and you can see on your own that the stretches i was performing weren’t perfectly executed. I know i should work hard to improve my technique and probably a personal trainer/physio/chiropractor would provide great guidance towards this direction, but even with these, rather poorly performed stretches the results were astonishing. Click the photos to zoom. Visit the sections dedicated to quads/calves/hamstring stretches in order for further guidance/tips on how to perform the previous stretches much more accurately/effectively. Now, let’s have a look at the photos:

Strengthening Exercises at Home


Photo 1 – Calves Strengthening Exercise


Photo 2 – Quadriceps Strengthening Exercise


Photo 3 – Abductors Strengthening exercise


Photo 4 - Kneeling Quad Stretch

Photo 4 – Kneeling Quad Stretch

Photo 5 - Standing Quad Stretch

Photo 5 – Standing Quad Stretch

Photo 6 - Hamstring Stretch

Photo 6 – Hamstring Stretch

Photo 5 - Calf Stretch

Photo 7 – Calf Stretch

Photo 8 - My MCL Stretch

Photo 8 – My MCL Stretch

Just to sum it up: during the first 3 days i was following a session of warm-up/stretching/ice-therapy 3-4 times per day, combined with home strengthening exercises once per day. During the next 11 days i continued with the warm-up/stretching/ice-therapy routine and replaced home exercises with the gym ones which i will describe in depth in the next post! Stay tuned!!



Category: Self Healer

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