Best Exercises Before ACL Surgery for Effective Prehab

ACL injuries can seem like huge challenges, but the road to rehabilitation offers a chance to strengthen and rebuild. By emphasizing crucial pre-surgery workouts, we’ll explore the crucial steps to empowering your ACL journey in this complete guide.

Understanding the Journey:

An ACL injury, characterized by a tear or sprain in the anterior cruciate (KROO-she-ate) ligament (ACL), occurs frequently during sports involving sudden stops, changes in direction, and jumping and landing, such as soccer, basketball, football, and downhill skiing.

When an ACL injury happens, individuals often experience a distinctive pop or a sensation of popping in the knee. This is accompanied by swelling, instability, and intense pain that may make bearing weight impossible. The integrity of the knee takes a significant hit when the ACL is torn, with causes ranging from sudden halts and directional shifts to direct impacts on the knee. Symptoms include pain, swelling, and challenges in weight-bearing. Understanding these implications is essential for establishing realistic expectations during the rehabilitation process.

Post-ACL injury, routine activities become challenging. Everyday tasks like walking or climbing stairs may pose difficulties. The instability in the injured knee not only affects the quality of life but also leads to a decrease in overall mobility.

Goals After an ACL Injury:

A 2016 study showed that a group that had pre-operative rehabilitation had considerably better results two years after ACL reconstruction surgery. Returning to pre-injury sports performance was one of these goals, as was improving patient-reported knee function measurements.

Goals Pursued by the Successful Group:

Goal 1: Establish a “Quiet Knee”
– Reducing joint effusion is a priority. Use ice and elevation in the initial days, and focus on comfortable range of motion exercises to minimize swelling.

Goal 2: Restore Full Range of Motion
– Work towards a straight or fully extended knee, matching the non-injured knee. Gradual progression of knee bending is crucial for a successful outcome after ACL surgery.

Goal 3: Re-establish Quad Strength & Firing Capacity
– Begin with quad activation exercises like quad sets, progressing to resisted knee extension exercises. Challenging the quadriceps with resistance is key to restoring firing capacity.

Pre-Surgery Exercises:

Quad Sets:

How to: Sit or lie down with your injured leg straight. Tighten the muscles on the top of your thigh and hold for 5-10 seconds. Repeat.
Benefits: Activates and strengthens the quadriceps muscles.

Straight Leg Raises:

How to: Lie on your back, lift your injured leg, keeping it straight. Hold for a few seconds and then lower it. Gradually increase repetitions.
Benefits: Targets knee stability and overall leg strength.

Hamstring Curls:

How to: While lying on your stomach, bend your knee, bringing your heel towards your buttocks. Control the movement as you lower it back down.
Benefits: Balances muscle strength in the thigh and hamstring.

Calf Raises:

How to: Stand on a flat surface, rise onto your toes, and then lower your heels back down.
Benefits: Strengthens the calf muscles and enhances overall lower limb stability.

Balance Exercises:

How to: Stand on one leg for 30 seconds, gradually increasing the time. Use stability aids as needed.
Benefits: Improves overall balance and reduces the risk of falls.

Preparing for ACL surgery involves more than just waiting for the operation day. By actively engaging in pre-surgery exercises, you lay the foundation for a successful recovery. These exercises not only strengthen your knee but also contribute to improved post-surgery outcomes.

Remember, consult with healthcare professionals for personalized advice tailored to your unique needs. Empower your knees, embrace the journey, and pave the way for a robust recovery.