Claudia Ott Capetown

In our series „Road to Recovery “, our expert Claudia Ott writes about her road from a cruciate ligament rupture, the surgery, her rehabilitation right until her return on the water. 

The way back is always hard and demands a lot of patience. To give you a little overview, I will start todays article with a description of the first 6 weeks of my regeneration:


  • Knee injury: front cruciate ligament rupture, collateral ligament and an injury of individual bone parties from the impact on the tree with a large hematoma.
  • Circumstances of the accident: Getting stuck in a hole while snowboarding, hitting a tree with the outside of my knee.

Due to the very high instability of the knee, I was recommended to get a knee surgery done within the next ten days. Even if they could have left the medial collateral ligament for around six weeks to regenerate by itself, to later perform surgery on the cruciate ligament, they were afraid, that the stability of the partially directly by the bone ripped medial collateral ligament wouldn’t heal enough, because the knee was “opened up” a lot to the outer side. (During the surgery around 30 degree). Five days after the accident I was having surgery in Munich and got a new cruciate ligament.


The surgery went well – I kept the nurse with my low blood pressure and circulatory problems busy, when she had to catch me with my wheelchair a couple of times. Of course I was cuddled up with a delicious roast pork and coffee afterwards.


The post-surgery-phase was meant to give medial collateral ligament the needed rest. Therefore, I was forced to go on crutches for 6 weeks and wear an orthosis. Sadly, this movement restriction lead to the knee suffering in its deflection- and extension-reflex and I had to work a lot on the mobility and couldn’t really start working on the actual muscle- and stability- build-up.


The following practices helped me with every knee injury:


  • Putting up the knee, allowing it to lay above the heart and to improve the reduction of the swelling > in addition of drinking a lot (not alcohol, of course ;) )
  • Cold compresses and „Retterspitz äußerlich“ always lead to a pleasant cooling and support the healing on a natural basis.
  • Even if it’s hard, you should already try to move the knee just a little bit and to contract your muscles shortly after the surgery. TENS/EMS machines that can stimulate the muscles in your thighs without influencing the knees can help. (Talking to your doctor beforehand is definitely necessary)
  • Simply trying to get back to your daily routines to help the brain relax is important. Your psychic balance is very important for your physical regeneration.


My personal experience is, that you need to be patient with some movements. After a short period of time I wasn’t in pain anymore while walking, and could imagine going for a run. The mobility after my first cruciate ligament surgery allowed all of that, but as it was only a short time after the surgery it would have destroyed the cruciate ligament. On the other hand, there are moves, that can be very painful; for example, deflecting and extending the leg. Therefore, it’s essential, to get close to the point of pain, to improve your mobility. (Depending on how far your allowed to flex your leg, of course. ) Don’t be too cautious!


Since I’ve already had a cruciate ligament rupture, that was treated conservative, as well as an isolated cruciate ligament rupture, that was performed surgery on, I can say, that the combination of the cruciate ligament rupture and the collateral ligament rupture with the surgery was the most difficult injury for me. One of the reasons is, that you are able to walk without crutches only a short time after the surgery and can start practicing shortly after with an isolated cruciate ligament rupture. On my current injury, the six weeks on crutches have thrown me back a lot, regarding my mobility and stability. It’s difficult to go easy on your knee on the one hand, but to also stress it on the other hand. Wild scaring and sticking, right after the surgery, have to be reopened and can be quite hurtful. Most of the time you’re scared, that the implant could be damaged, from your therapist moving your knee from one side to the other. Those worries are usually unfounded, but it’s important to find a knee-specialist to perform the surgery, as well as someone with experience for the therapy afterwards.

Claudia Ott


Claudia Ott


A cruciate ligament injury is a severe injury. The combination with an injury of the collateral ligament or the meniscus etc. makes it even more difficult. But you shouldn’t forget how many athletes managed to get back into pro-sports after something similar. The best examples are probably Lindsey Vonn and Holger Bartstuber. Especially the first phase during rehabilitation seems to be unmanageable and you need get motivated every single day. The nights are exhausting due to the orthosis and in the mornings you might feel like you haven’t made any progress.

You feel like every other person out there is outside, kitesurfing, snowboarding or mountain biking and you’re the only one who isn’t. This might sound stupid but you’re going to have to fight through this. Turning off Facebook and Instagram to concentrate on yourself and your own body might be a good option. You can learn a whole lot from an injury like this, if you try. The perception of one’s own body becomes stronger and you can even start to feel small weather-changes with your knee. Didn’t you always want to be able to do this? The most important thing is to stay positive. How about booking a holiday in about… nine months?! It’s something to be excited for and you’ll come back a whole lot stronger then you were before.

  • Injuries, and especially this kind, should never be underestimated. It’s better to spend a little more time reconstructing, then to have to go through a much harder and longer rehabilitation process.

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