Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) surgery is dreaded by every athlete around the world and marked as a career killer. Although it can take constant dedication and work to regain your strength and flexibility, it is possible. To do this, your doctor may suggest that you work with a physical therapist throughout your recovery period. Their goal is to prevent you from trying to take on too much exercise too soon, all while trying to avoid any further muscle loss. It is important to have a workout routine that will enhance your recovery after ACL surgery and help you maintain knee mobility and strength.
Here at MMAR Medical, we took it upon ourselves to make a list of a few exercises for ACL rehab.
Range of Motion (ROM) Exercises
- Straight leg raises. A straight leg raise is imperative in regaining full extension. To perform a straight leg raise, lay flat on your back and bend the uninjured leg at the knee while keeping the injured leg straight. Lift the straight leg up off the floor. Hold this position and then lower your leg back to the ground. Remember to do this exercise slowly during your first few weeks of recovery.
- Hamstring Curls. Without the muscles in the back of the thigh, the knee muscles would lack support. You can do a hamstring curl in a standing or laying position. In order to do a standing hamstring curl, you should stand with your feet apart and slowly bend your knee to lift your foot off the floor towards the back of your thigh. This is a great balance exercise that also provides a fantastic stretch.
- Hip flexion and extension. This is one of the best exercises after ACL surgery. It is a fantastic way to increase your mobility, especially if you need a rest from bending your knee. A hip flexion is when you keep your leg straight as you move it forward to the front and the extension is when you keep your leg straight as you move your leg to the back. This will also help your balance and your flexibility.
Low Impact Exercises
- Light jogging and treadmills. If you’re ready for a more intense exercise, light jogging will help you warm up and get your blood circulating. Over time, you will see your endurance and your mobility increasing.
- Cycling. Biking will increase your heart rate and give your knee a work out. Whether you use a stationary bike or a fully mobile bike, make sure that you remain safe. The last thing you want to do is reinjure your knee.
- Swimming. Unlike running or cycling, swimming will take a lot of pressure off of your knee. Swimming has been widely considered as a great therapeutic exercise for almost any injury. With the added resistance of the water, swimming will slowly help build the strength of your knee.
Before you perform any of these activities, make sure to consult your doctor or physical therapist first. Throughout your many weeks of ACL surgery recovery, you will continue to build strength and see progress. It’s important to remember that everyone progresses at a different pace. Know your limitations and celebrate any improvements. For more information on ACL reconstruction, ACL sprains, and knee surgery recovery, check out our injuries page.