ACL Rehabilitation

The Best Exercises to Help With ACL Rehabilitation

The ACL is an important ligament in the middle of the knee, but it is also the most frequently damaged ligament in this area due to being torn or overstretched. Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are extremely common, and often these injuries require surgery.

Physical therapy after ACL surgery is an important way to ensure that the rehabilitation process goes smoothly, that your ACL heals fully and that your strength and range of motion are restored. One of the best things you can do for your recovery is to adhere to a set of post-ACL surgery exercises to bolster the healing process. Here are some of the best ACL rehab exercises to help you on the road to recovery.

Helpful ACL Exercises For After Surgery

Heel Slides

Heel slides are an effective exercise that allows you to extend your knees without bearing too much weight.

  1. Sit down on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you.
  2. Slide the heel of your injured leg slowly across the floor, carefully bending your knee as you go.
  3. Bend as far as you can and hold for 3-5 seconds. Slowly slide your heel back in place.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Half Squats

These exercises are done while standing up, with both hands holding on to a strong table.

  1. Place your feet a shoulder-width apart
  2. Bend your knees slowly and lower down into a half squat position.
  3. Stay in this position for at least ten seconds before carefully returning to a standing stance.
  4. Repeat 10 times a day.

Passive Knee Extensions

You will need two chairs of equal height to attempt this exercise. Turn chairs to face each other with enough room between them for you to sit with your leg outstretched.

  1. Sit down in one seat and place your heel on the other
  2. Slowly begin to relax your leg, until your knee has straightened.
  3. Relax and hold this position for 1 to 2 minutes, allowing your hamstrings to stretch. Try this exercise several times a day.

Knee Extension

Similar to the passive knee extension, but requires the use of an exercise band and a solid table.

  1. Loop one end of the exercise band onto one of the table legs, and loop the other around your ankle (on the injured leg). You can also attach both ends of the band onto two legs of the table and slip your ankle into the loop.
  2. Turn toward the table. Bend your knee approximately 45 degrees, against the resistance of the band.
  3. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then relax.
  4. Repeat 10 times a day.

physical theraphy

Isometric Quad Contractions

Isometric Quad Contractions require you to use your quadriceps while sitting on the floor.

  1. Sit down on a flat surface
  2. Extend your injured leg out in front of you, and slowly bend the uninjured leg.
  3. Without moving either leg, gently contract the quadriceps of your injured knee.
  4. Contract and hold for 10 seconds then relax.
  5. Repeat 10 times a day.

Prone Knee Flexion

Prone knee flexions are executed while lying on your stomach.

  1. Lie flat on your stomach while keeping your legs straightened.
  2. Bend your injured knee and slowly bring your heel back to your buttocks.
  3. Hold heel in place for 5 seconds, then relax.
  4. Repeat 10 times a day.

Heel Raises

These exercises should be performed while standing, and you will need one chair to assist.

  1. Hold the back of the chair to help maintain balance.
  2. Stand on your tiptoes and lift the heel of your injured leg slowly.
  3. Hold your heel in the air, while remaining on tiptoes, for 5-10 seconds.
  4. Relax and slowly lower your heels.
  5. Repeat 10 times a day.

Long-Sitting Calf Stretch

You will be sitting down for this exercise, and will also need a towel to assist.

  1. Sit down and stretch your injured leg out straight in front of you.
  2. Wrap your towel around your foot and hold an end in each hand.
  3. Pull the towel towards you until you feel a stretch in the back of your leg.
  4. Hold for 10-20 seconds
  5. Repeat 10 times a day.

Standing On One Leg

Even something as simple as standing on one leg for a period of time can assist you in gradually rebuilding your strength and balance over time. Stand on two feet and slowly lift your uninjured leg, then hold it in place. Try to stand on your injured leg for 10 seconds, without assistance.

While you implement these exercises into your daily routine, it’s important to remember that the road to recovery is a slow one. Discomfort during recovery is normal and expected, but you shouldn’t push yourself too hard too quickly. These ACL rehab exercises are aimed at helping you to heal and to prevent further injury to your ACL, so it is imperative that you don’t overstrain yourself by adding more strenuous exercises into your routine. Make sure to follow any and all instructions that your physical therapist gives you.

If you are dealing with ACL injury and rehabilitation in Atlanta, get in touch with our team at Kellie K Middleton MD by sending an email or calling us at +770-509-4030 today.

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