Posts Tagged ‘ACL rehabilitation’

Returning to Competition after an ACL Injury and Surgery

ACL Rehab ProgramBecause our sports medicine specialists have created a new program dedicated entirely to ACL injuries and your successful recovery from them, we’ve been sharing blog posts that correspond with the stages of the program. In first post, we helped you identify goals and prepare for ACL surgery after an injury and also introduced you to the concept of prehabilitation, which is equally as important as rehabilitating after surgery. For more on that topic, check out part I of our ACL injury blog series. After helping you prepare for surgery, we then moved on to identifying your post-ACL surgery recovery goals week-by-week in part II of our series. Today, we’ll be covering the last stage of the program and the portion that’s probably most important to those who consider themselves athletes: Returning to Play.

The goals and exercises outlined below will guide you from 3 months until 8 months post surgery. It is vital to faithfully adhere to the following program to avoid re-injury to the ACL reconstruction. Having a physical therapist or certified athletic trainer to help hide you through this program is often helpful. If you’ve had ACL surgery, but are still in the early stages of rehabilitation, check out part I and part II of our ACL injury blog series before moving forward.

Months 3-4: Jogging Phase

During months 3 and 4 of your recovery after ACL surgery you will work on improving functional strength with forwards and backwards movement, increasing your cardiovascular fitness and starting a jogging progression, core strengthening and overall lower extremity flexibility. Tip: when performing exercises such as Schlopy Mini Jumps, use a mirror for feedback. Your hips should stay even and knees should not buckle in, you should flex at your knees not your hips.

Months 4-5: Agility Phase

Building agility in months 4 and 5 of your recovery is a key step in returning to play. During months 4-5, focus on your strength, cardio, flexibility, core, and agility workouts. From the exercises outlined by the program, lower extremity strength should all be done on same day and make sure you get 48 hours rest between strength exercises. Cardiovascular exercises should be done 3-5 times per week.

Months 5-6: Return to Drills Phase

Throughout months 5-6 you will continue to work on improving strength and balance and start getting back to your game. You can add the BOSU ball with your strengthening exercises and start sport specific drills and start to be a part of your team.

Months 6-7: Return to Practice Phase

During months 6-7 of your post-ACL surgery recovery, you can start practicing your sport with your team. You can get physical in practice but only progress to play when you are fully confident. You will need both the physical strength and mental confidence before you start to compete and play.

Months 7-8: Return to Competition Phase

Congratulations! Once you’ve made it this far through the ACL surgery and rehabilitation program, you are ready to return to competition!  Make sure you are in the best shape possible to return both physically and mentally. Your ACL strength and flexibility will only improve as long as you continue to challenge yourself and continue your strengthening.

Remember you won’t be 100 percent, fully recovered until 12 to 18 months. Professional athletes take one year to return to high level competition. Be patient!

If you’ve injured your ACL, whether or not you’ve had surgery yet, check out our ACL rehabilitation program website. All of the phases listed above are outlined on the site with detailed instructions, exercises and tips for making your recovery after ACL surgery as effective as possible.

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Defining Post-Op Goals After ACL Surgery

ACL post operative goals

It is estimated that there are approximately 80,000 anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in the U.S. each year. Not surprisingly, 70% of those injuries take place while the person injured is participating in athletic activity. Because ACL tears are so common and can put a hindrance on an athlete pursuing his or her career or passion, our Emory Sports Medicine team has put together an ACL program specifically for people seeking guidance in their treatment and recovery from ACL injuries and tears.

In our last blog post on ACL injuries, we got you familiar with the idea of prehabilitation, or care and steps to take before surgery for an ACL-tear. which is part one of the ACL program at Emory. In this post, we’ll cover some of the details and goals of your post-op recovery from ACL surgery, including what you should expect to see week by week:

ACL Surgery Post-Op Weeks 1-3

Goals: The goals in the first three weeks of your recovery from ACL surgery are fairly straight forward, to get patients back on their feet (off crutches), reduce swelling in the joint by faithfully icing (20 min every 2-4 hrs), and to increase the knee’s range of motion and focusing on getting extension back. For specific measurements you should track and exercises to consider, check out the materials on our website.

ACL Surgery Post-Op Weeks 4-6

Goals: Consistently reducing swelling in the knee and continuing to work on increasing the knee’s range of motion are the core goals of ACL surgery recovery weeks 4-6. At this point in your surgical recovery, your knee should be able to be straight or equal to other knee. Your knee joint should be cooing and not warm to touch. Those 4-6 weeks out from surgery should focus on being able to walk without limping and strengthening quadricep muscles.

ACL Surgery Post-Op Weeks 7-12

Goals: 2-3 months after ACL surgery, swelling should be controlled and there should be minimal effusion in the knee joint. Range of motion should be nearly full or equal to the other side full extension and knee flexion should be to 120 degrees. Knee joint should be cool and normal temperature, compared to other side. By this point, patients should have achieved good quadriceps tone with their vastus medialis oblique (VMO) firing effectively. Patients should also seek to establish normal gait pattern and be able to walk without limping at this point.

Does your recovery timeline after ACL surgery match up with what you see here? If so, or if not, please feel free to share your story with us and with our readers.

Emory Sports Medicine’s ACL injury program specializes in providing care ranging from the prehabilitation stage to getting you back in the game. So, in our next ACL injury post, we’ll share with you specific exercises you can use and steps you can take (including video demonstrations) to help you return to play more quickly. Stay tuned!

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