Our resident health and fitness expert, Cameron Walsh, takes a look at the knee injury that is currently holding Leafs’ captain Dion Phaneuf out of the line-up.
By Cameron Walsh
Phaneuf has now come out of surgery and looks like he will be on the shelf for a minimum of 4 weeks. The collision itself was a pretty innocuous one, I mean you see a lot of these in a game, he was pretty unlucky really.
Where he was lucky was the fact he didn’t have his Medial Collateral ligament (MCL) severed, it was ‘only’ lacerated. As you can see from the diagram below it is commonly known as a 2nd degree injury.
The MCL connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shinbone) running along the inside of the knee and limits the sideways motion of the knee. The surgery itself will be quite simple, a quick arthroscope keyhole that will go in and ‘tie’ or ‘staple’ the ligament back up. The reason Phaneuf will be out for so long will be the rehabilitation on the knee itself.
After the surgery it will be at least a week before the swelling goes down and Phaneuf can start thinking about doing any rehab exercises. It will be the muscles around his knee that will be most important in this process. There is a muscle in particular called the Vastus Medialis Obliquus (VMO) that is essential in this process as it is the muscle that draws to the same areas that the MCL does.
Hockey players obviously have extremely strong legs to begin with, so it is reasonable to assume any player is ahead of the curve, than those that play other sports, the usual time frame for this kind of recovery is 6 weeks, so I would be very surprised to see Phaneuf take longer than the 4 weeks registered right from the first reports. It is one of the advantages of playing a sport that is so reliant of leg power and strength.