ACL injuries are common and so, Anterior Cruciate Ligament Surgeries are among the mostly conducted procedures. Prior to the procedure, different measures are taken to render the surgery successful and once it is conducted, the ACL recovery phase is another crucial stage every patient is concerned about. Some of the common recovery measures include elevating the leg, using painkillers if necessary, applying cold and compression therapy, and an exercise plan.
Physical therapy is a definite consideration after the surgery to help you recover safely and stronger. However, your exercises must be developed gradually depending on how much you can manage. For most patients, their physical therapy follows this order;
Day 1 after the surgery to the 2nd Week
For most patients, walking or extending their knee is hard for the first week and this is normal. However, trying to work your knee out whenever possible may reduce your downtime; improve your range of motion in order to regain full knee extension. Exercises recommended during this period include;
- Straightening your knee by placing it in another chair
- Doing hamstring and calf stretches with a soft support behind the knee while seated on the floor.
- Put a lightweight on the thigh while lying on the back. Your ankle must be propped up.
2 Week to 4th Week
Having regained full extension, your trainee’s focus will then shift to increase the range of motion. The exercises provided will also help build strength in the supporting muscles. If possible, some patients can even begin low-impact exercises such as swimming or riding a stationary bicycle. Exercises suitable during this phase include;
- Performing heel raises while standing
- Doing partial lunges and standing with one foot a half-step forward
- Setting your feet shoulder-width apart and performing half-squats.
- Straightening your legs while seated on the floor and contracting the quadriceps muscles
- Sliding your foot toward your body while seated on the floor with your legs straight
4th to 6th Week
At this phase, you will have to continue with the previous exercises as the main target still remains to improve the range of motion and muscle strength. Additional exercises include;
- Balancing on one leg
- Climbing stairs
- Adopting core stabilization exercises for balance
- More resistance with lightweight
- Pool running
6th to 12 Week
This phase is a great advancement and many patients require minor help as they conduct their exercises. Possible exercises include;
- Lateral movements
- High-speed movements
However, you are not required to exceed the dictated number of times you should conduct the exercises. The major aim still remains to be
- Improving the range of motion
- Increasing flexibility
- Building strength
You will certainly feel a difference in your knee and your ability to conduct a number of exercises must have increased. Any exercises conducted should be conducted safely as a way of preventing re-injury. You are recommended to try several exercises and these may include jogging, cycling, swimming among other exercises.
In the case of any pain or accident, it is best to consult your physical therapist for a way forward.