6 Items to prepare before ACL surgery - Prep Performance Center in Chicago

6 Items to get before ACL Surgery

Preparing for ACL surgery can seem intimidating, if not overwhelming.  Here are a few suggestions on items you should have to help your recovery go smoothly!  Some of the following may be provided by the hospital, but it is a good idea to check with your medical team before ACL surgery to ensure you have access.


Ice and cold packs can help reduce inflammation and pain following surgery, so it’s a good idea to have some available wherever you will be recovering.  Cold therapy machines are commonly rented for use after surgery. This unit functions by continuously running cold water through a cuff you secure around your knee and some options even provide intermittent compression to your knee to further reduce swelling and pain! Consider keeping 10-15 mini water bottles in your freezer to use with the cold therapy machine.

Loose Clothing

You may be surprised by how difficult it is to pull on a pair of pants or shorts without being able to bend your knee very much or stand on one leg. Make sure to have enough loose, comfortable clothing so that changing does not become a daily struggle.

Shower equipment

Getting into and out of the shower will require some maneuvering early in your recovery, and items like a shower stool and bath mat can help you bathe more safely. Take a look at the set-up of your shower beforehand to decide what you’ll need. Does the tub have a lip? Is it slippery or angled? You can also place a chair just outside of the tub so that you can get undressed while sitting and transfer from the chair into the tub.  Other bathroom items to consider include a removable shower head, grab bars and a toilet seat riser.

Trash Bags

You will be instructed to keep your incisions dry during the early phase of recovery to promote healing.  Make sure you have trash bags big enough to cover your knee while you bathe. You can purchase a more expensive leg cover from retailers, but many individuals prefer to use a standard trash bag.


Stocking up on small snacks such as apple sauce or pudding are important so that you do not take your pain medication on an empty stomach.  Consider choosing some food items that are high in natural fiber (i.e. pears, avocado, oat bran) to prevent constipation due to the medication.  You should be getting around 25-30 g of fiber per day to help you have regular, quality bowel movements, but few individuals actually get enough.


Although not an item, identifying your support team and their schedules is important before ACL surgery.  You may need to rely on others to cook, help you change, and help you bathe. You should identify people you trust whose schedules allow them to help out. This could mean a few people, especially in the first few weeks, helping out at different times so that you do not attempt a task that is unsafe before you know your limits. You should also ensure that whoever is helping you bathe is physically fit enough to help transfer to the tub and back up without losing balance. 

Another thing to consider before ACL surgery is how you want your recovery space to be set up. Consider removing carpets or objects that you could trip on and having a set place to keep your medication and a snack. If you live in a place with multiple bathrooms, you should think about which will be easiest to use with an assistive device (i.e. crutches or walker) and has the best shower and toilet set up. With the proper preparation, you will be able to focus on your recovery. See related article from NHS website on preparations before surgery.

Yes for sure you will be thinking a lot before ACL surgery, such as these: What to buy before ACL surgery? What to eat before ACL surgery? Nervous before ACL surgery? Should I wear a brace before ACL surgery? How to prepare the house for ACL surgery? Questions to ask before ACL surgery? How to sleep with ACL injury before surgery? Can I ride a bike before ACL surgery? All these you have in mind, you can be relieved by consulting to our physical therapist and book an appointment. Tap the button below.


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Physical Therapist Examining A Cracking Knee After ACL Surgery

Why Does My Knee Crack During My ACL Surgery Recovery?

Knee Crack | If you’re recovering from ACL surgery and worried whether the noises from your knee are a warning sign that your surgery hasn’t gone well, or that you’ve done too much, too soon, you aren’t alone!

Hearing your knee crack, click or pop after your ACL surgery is a very common experience among those who have gone through an ACL reconstruction.

And we understand that it’s a very scary thing.

The last thing you want is for something to go wrong, and end up battling an injury you’d hoped would be in the past.

We know you want to get back to sports, workouts, and running, and we are here to help get you there!

Woman running outdoors for exercise

1. Why Are My Knees Clicking During My ACL Surgery Recovery?

There are a few reasons your knees may be clicking that are completely normal.

A. Scar Tissue

Following ACL surgery, there is typically some scar tissue that develops within the knee joint and surrounding structures.

When you first start moving the knee around, this scar tissue will start to break up causing an audible crack or pop – this is okay!

B. Swelling

Oftentimes after surgery, the knee joint and affected structures will experience swelling.

This is a normal part of the healing process.

When there is swelling in the knee joint, this can cause the knee cap to track differently along the thigh bone when bending and straightening the knee.

When the knee cap gets off its normal track, this can cause an audible crack or pop.

Again, this is not something to be overly concerned about as once the swelling is resolved, this motion should return to normal.

In addition to ice and elevation, safe and gentle range of motion at the knee can help to decrease post-operative swelling.

An example of a simple range of motion exercise to increase knee flexion is heel slides along the floor while sitting with legs stretched out in front of you.

Other examples include low-intensity stretching for the hamstrings and calf muscles.

All range of motion and stretching should follow the prescribed guidelines of immediate post-operative care set by the surgeon in order to protect the healing ACL graft.

Specific instructions on these exercises are linked below!

B.1. Range of Motion and Stretching Exercises For ACL Surgery Recovery

– Heel Slides

– Hamstring Stretch

– Calf Stretch

C. Weak Quadricep Muscles

Similar to joint swelling, a weak quadriceps muscle can cause the knee cap to track differently and may result in a crack or pop.

Following an ACL reconstruction, it is normal to experience quadriceps weakness.

Regaining quadriceps strength is something your physical therapist will begin working on with you early in your rehab.

Much like swelling, once quadriceps strength returns the knee cap will track normally again.

A safe quadriceps strengthening exercise to do after ACL surgery is isometric quadriceps setting.

This exercise will help to wake up the quadriceps muscle that has likely lost some strength since surgery.

Again, all exercises should follow the guidelines set by the surgeon in order to protect the healing ACL graft.

Specific instructions on these exercises are linked below!

C.1. Quadriceps Strengthening Exercise:

– Isometric Quad Setting

2. What If I’m Still Worried About My Knee Clicking?

While hearing a crack or pop is completely normal following surgery, it can be reassuring to speak to an expert physical therapist – like our team at our Chicago clinic.

Our advice would be to get help from knee pain specialists who work with athletes and active people recover from knee injuries on a daily basis.

At PREP Performance Center, you can get drug-free knee pain relief, whilst helping speed up recovery and improve your performance when running and playing sports.

To find out how we can help you recover from ACL surgery, or any other knee injuries you are struggling with, arrange a Free Discovery Visit.

Right now, the demand at our clinic is very high, so arrange your Free Discovery Visit or call us on (773) 609-1847 now.

Dealing with knee cracking during ACL surgery recovery? Our guide to ACL reconstruction can help – download it today.

Download Your Guide to ACL Reconstruction

3. Other Free Resources To Prevent and Treat Sports Injuries

Read Our Blog – How To Prevent Knee Pain When Running

Read Our Blog – 11 Steps To Improve Knee Flexion After ACL Surgery

Read Our Blog – 6 Best Exercises To Eliminate Your Knee Pain

Follow Us On Social Media – Prep Performance Center Facebook, Prep Performance Center Twitter and Prep Performance Center YouTube

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ACL Injury

Get the best physical therapy for your ACL Injury at Prep Performance Center in Chicago, Il, USA.

The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is located in the knee and can be injured or torn when it is harshly twisted in the wrong way. ACL tears are especially common in athletes, including those who participate in sports such as gymnastics, football, soccer, tennis, or downhill skiing. All these sports require sudden stops and changes in direction, making the risk higher for twisting the knee the wrong way and sustaining an ACL injury.

An ACL injury is painful and debilitating. Those suffering from this type of injury typically experience severe pain, swelling, limited range of motion, and instability when trying to bear weight. Fortunately, our Chicago physical therapy services can help treat your ACL injury and provide some much-needed relief.

According to SpringerLink website, only 44% of young athletes return to their pre-injury level of sports, and up to 23% sustain a re-injury, with many of them dropping out of sports entirely. At Prep Performance Center, physical therapists are dedicated not only to helping you recover from your ACL injury. But are also able to help you prevent further injuries from occurring in the future. Our Chicago physical therapists will conduct several tests to gauge your injury risk, such as the Landing Error Scoring System (LESS). This is a jump-landing test, used to determine whether or not you are at high-risk for a non-contact ACL injury.

After diagnostic tests and physical examinations are complete, our Chicago physical therapists will design a specialized treatment plan based on your specific needs. Your treatment plan may include a combination of methods, including manual therapy, ice and heat therapies, ultrasound, or targeted exercises, all aimed at providing relief and rehabilitation.

If you are suffering from an ACL injury, contact the best ACL Rehab in Chicago at Prep Performance Center. Our location is in Lincoln Square, Irving Park, Lakeview, Horner Park, Roscoe Village & Ravenswood Chicago, IL, and schedule your initial appointment. We will get you started on your path toward recovery and long-lasting relief!


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