ACL Rehabilitation Exercises

Having undergone two ACL surgeries myself, I have an affinity towards seeing new exercises to help patients recover from ACL injuries. One of my favorite physical therapists that I follow on Instagram is Dr. Wesley Wang PT, DPT whose bio includes Sports & ACL Physical Therapy. Many of the exercises shown on Dr. Wang’s Instagram posts are athletes in the recovery process performing mid-stage or late-stage exercises. Compared to my own rehab experience, these athletes are performing advanced exercises leading towards return to play. For competitive athletes looking towards returning to play, working with a sports-based physical therapist may provide them with specific exercises to give them the strength and confidence to return to play and avoid re-injury.

One of the things I realize is that many patients don’t know what to expect after ACL surgery. My last ACL surgery was an out-patient procedure. Within 2 days after the surgery, a Continuous Passive Motion (CPM) machine was delivered to my house to start the process of gently flexing and extending my knee. A week after surgery was my first visit to out-patient physical therapy where my therapist evaluated my knee and provided me with the first of many exercises. Early exercises included Quad Set and Active Assisted Knee Flexion. Among the things I found most surprising post-surgery was how quickly my quadricep muscle mass diminished. Of course, this is why physical therapy is important and why it’s necessary to follow through with your home exercises. In total, it was about 6 months before I was close to being back to pre-surgery leg strength.

Each person will have their own unique recovery experience. Patience, hard work and consistently doing your home exercises will help lead to great outcomes.

PT-Helper has added three new exercises in our exercise library based upon Dr. Wang’s Instagram post.

Step Up Plyometric: Stand in front of a step or short box. Raise one foot above the height of the step. In one continuous motion, drop your foot onto the step then push down with your front foot raising your body up above step while driving your rear leg up in front of you. Push off the step with your forward foot such that your foot rises off the step. Return back down with one leg on the step and the other leg off the step. Raise your front foot of the step and repeat.

Heel Elevated Goblet Squat: Stand straight with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart, on top of an incline board. Hold a dumbbell or kettlebell with both hands close to your chest, elbows tight against your body. Tighten your core then bend your knees pushing your butt back while keeping your back straight. Straighten your knees to rise to a standing position. Repeat.

Step Shuffle: Stand to the side of a step with one foot on the step and the other foot to the side of the step. Hop from one side of the step to the other side, alternating which foot remains on top of the step. Repeat.

In addition to the exercises listed above, we have many more exercises in our Knee & Hip category available to help you achieve your recovery or fitness goals.

Reminder: Please consult your physician or health professional before engaging in any physical activity and stop if you experience pain or discomfort.

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