anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, you lose leg
strength and motion and stability of the knee. It is important that you regain
your leg strength and motion as soon as possible, whether you choose to have
surgery for your ACL injury or not. Exercises to regain muscle strength and
knee motion should begin before you start treatment, whether treatment is a
rehabilitation (rehab) program only or surgery plus rehab.
After an ACL injury, your knee will not be
stable, may be painful, and may have a limited range of motion. You may
osteoarthritis in the knee.
If you do
exercises to strengthen your thigh muscles (quadriceps and hamstrings) and
regain knee motion soon after an ACL injury, you will be better prepared for a
rehab program or for surgery with a rehab program.
You should start
slowly and gradually increase the intensity of the exercises. Do not push
yourself to the point that you feel pain. Talk to your doctor about how to best
progress through the exercises.
The exercises outlined here are common exercises used
after an ACL injury. But your doctor may create a specific set of exercises for
you. Check with your doctor before you do any exercises.
When the ACL tears, the blood vessels around the
ligament tear and blood can fill the knee joint, causing swelling. This can
result in both pain and loss of motion. The inactivity following an ACL injury
often results in weakening of the muscle in the front of your thigh, the
quadriceps. If nothing is done after an ACL injury, you may develop
chronic ACL deficiency—your knee may become less
stable, leading to abnormal knee joint movement and premature
Treatment is needed for an ACL injury. Treatment
is either a rehab program or ACL surgery followed by a rehab program. Surgery
is generally more successful if you condition your knee and surrounding muscles
before starting your treatment. This can be achieved by doing a few simple
exercises. Your doctor will help you decide when to start these
Test Your Knowledge
An ACL injury can result in long-term injury to your
important to begin doing some simple exercises after injuring your ACL and
before treatment begins. Regaining leg strength and knee motion will help your
treatment be more successful, whether your rehab program is done in conjunction
with surgery or not.
Test Your Knowledge
It is important to do some simple exercises after
injuring your ACL and before treatment begins.
Quad sets, straight-leg
raises, and heel slides are common exercises used after an ACL injury. As
symptoms decrease and you are able to bear weight, side-lying leg lifts, glute
sets, bridges, mini-squats, heel raises, and prone hamstring
curls might be added. But your doctor may want you to tailor exercises to your
specific injury. Check with your doctor before you do any exercises.
You should start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of the
exercises. Do not push yourself to the point that you feel pain. Talk to your
doctor about how to best progress.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.