ACL Injury Exercises (Part 6)

Moving on to part 6 of the ACL Injury series.

An injury involving the anterior cruciate ligament is a serious matter. In addition to re-tear of the ACL being common after the knee is injured, the knee joint degenerates. Lack of sufficient blood supply hinders ACL healing and repair, which requires oxygen and nutrients. For this, an injury involving the ACL may take some time to heal, if at all. Over time, this can severely limit your physical activities, mobility, and independence. It may take 6 to 12 months (or longer) for severe tears to restore knee function.

In complete ACL tears, a surgical procedure is the most likely recommendation to avoid further injury and re-injuries and restore stability. Although the results of an ACL reconstruction are promising, the cost is financially damaging. In the United States, a reconstruction costs between $20,000 and $50,000. An additional $3,000 for rehabilitation and follow-up rehabilitation visits.

A neuromuscular training program is a best and most inexpensive way to prevent the occurrence and recurrence of ACL injuries. This training program consists of specialized balancing, stretching, and strengthening exercises of the knee’s dynamic stabilizers, agility drills, and plyometrics. These activities improve knee stability on jumping, landing, and pivoting. This program retrains you to use and move your body correctly, specifically the muscles and tendons surrounding the knee.

Neuromuscular training exercises are usually completed within 15 minutes. It is recommended that these exercises be included in your regular exercise regimen 2 to 3 times per week.

Warm-Up Exercises

Any exercise regimen is recommended to begin with warm-up exercises for 5 to 10 minutes. These exercises are vital to reduce your risk of injury.

Jog line to line and backward running

Set up two cones 10 to 20 feet apart. Ensure that your head is kept in alignment with your trunk. Maintain your trunk upright with a slight forward lean throughout the exercise. Forward bending from the hips should be avoided. Your hips, knees, and ankles should be in straight alignment. The knees should not cave in. Jog from cone to cone. As you reach the end cone, jog backward until you get the first cone. Be careful to land on your toes without snapping your knee back.

Stretching Exercises

These exercises improve and maintain the knee’s range of motion and reduce joint stiffness.

Calf stretch

Stand tall facing a wall, about 3 feet away. Position your left leg one step forward. Place both hands on the border with slightly bent elbows. Your shoulders, hips, and feet should be facing the wall. Slowly bend your left leg, keeping both heels in contact with the ground throughout the movement. Keep your back and right leg straight. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat the exercise—complete two repetitions on each side.

Quadriceps stretch

Stand tall before a counter or chair, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Hold the counter or chair with your left hand. Lift your right leg off the ground. Using your right hand, grasp your ankle and lift it toward your buttocks. Your right knee should be pointing toward the floor. Keep your back straight throughout the exercise. Do not allow the right knee to drift forward in front of the left leg. Hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides—complete two repetitions on each side.

Figure four hamstring stretch

Sit tall on the floor. Position your right leg straight in front of you. Bend the other knee, allowing the sole of your left foot to rest on your right inner thigh. Maintaining a straight back, slowly move your chest towards the right knee. Over time, try reaching down towards your toes and pulling them towards your head. Avoid rounding your shoulders. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat the exercise—complete two repetitions on each side.

Rick Kaselj, MS

I have one more part left to post. I will get it up in the next few days.

If you are interested in knee pain, knee injuries, or ACL injuries, these other posts may interest you: