It is important to follow all of your physical therapist's recommendations so that you do not introduce too much activity too early. Even if you feel minimal or no pain, doing too much too soon can inhibit your ACL surgery recovery.
6 Exercises for After ACL SurgerySome of the exercises that your physical therapist might recommend after ACL surgery include:
- Straight leg raise - In the first few weeks after surgery the straight leg raise is used to help build strength in the quadriceps muscles. This exercise is performed by laying flat on your back with the uninjured knee bent and the injured leg straight on the floor. Keeping your knee straight, slowly lift your leg and lower it back to the ground. When you can comfortably lift your leg to the height of your bent knee, your therapist might add weights.
- 4-way hip machine - Another series of strengthening exercises that can be done without bending the knee are hip flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction. These also help increase strength in the muscles surrounding the knee joint.
- Hamstring curl - The muscles in the back of your thigh are important for maintaining stability in the knee joint. In the first few weeks, hamstring curls can be performed standing or lying prone. After a few weeks, you can do this exercise on a weight machine and begin to add more resistance.
- Squats and lunges - After the first six weeks after ACL surgery, you can start to bend your knee at an angle greater than 90 degrees. At this point you can introduce lunges and squats to continue strengthening the knee joint. Work with your physical therapist to ensure that you maintain proper form.
- Leg press - After about a month, you can begin strengthening your quadriceps by gradually adding weight on a leg press machine. This is similar to a squat, but provides more resistance.
- Balance exercises - Your therapist will have you perform balance exercises such as standing on one leg or using a balance board to engage the smaller muscles inside the knee joint.
Your physical therapist will also likely recommend activities such as cycling to help improve range of motion with low impact.
In addition to physical therapy, active cold and compression therapies can also help speed up your ACL surgery recovery and minimize pain. In fact your physical therapist might even have a Game Ready System at their facility. Find a Game Ready provider near you to ensure that you get the most from your ACL surgery recovery.
What other exercises have you tried after ACL surgery?