Several factors influence your recovery from an ACL injury. One factor is the muscle strength of the quadriceps before surgery. It's also important to consider the amount of preoperative quadriceps weakness. Exercises for ACL rehabilitation should focus on strengthening the quadriceps muscles while avoiding over or under-stressing the affected region. Here are some examples of exercises for rehabilitation.
Anterior Cruciate Ligament
A ripped anterior cruciate ligament can be painful and prevent you from returning to competitive sports for nine to twelve months. A recent literature review found that only 55% of athletes returned to competition after a rupture, and only 61% were able to return to the same level of play as before the injury. Fortunately, there are exercises for anterior cruciate ligament rehabilitation that can speed up the healing process and improve range of motion.
Most postoperative clients participate in a rehabilitation program for approximately six months. During this time, the maximum tension on the graft increases. It continues to increase for another month and then gradually decreases until the graft has healed completely. After eight months, the client may return to active, preinjury activities, and may find that the reconstructed ACL underperforms. To make sure that the rehabilitation process is successful, an exercise program should be developed.
Preoperative quadriceps muscle strength deficits
Postoperative quadriceps strength is a crucial determinant of functional outcomes after ACL reconstruction. Moreover, preoperative quadriceps strength is related to patient satisfaction and function of the knee during gait. Therefore, it is crucial to assess the asymmetry of quadriceps strength prior to surgery and improve it after the operation. If patients have quadriceps weakness prior to surgery, they are at a high risk of re-injury and are not able to return to their normal activities following reconstruction.
The findings were similar when the ACL is repaired alone. However, the postoperative rehabilitation protocols of patients undergoing meniscal repair were different. In particular, the degree and rate of muscle recovery were less for patients with meniscal repair. Moreover, meniscal repair decreased the risk of developing arthritis and preserved the ACL graft. However, some studies have reported decreased muscle strength after arthroscopic ACL repair.
Exercises to regain knee motion after surgery
The goal of exercises to regain knee motion after ACL surgery is to improve the strength of the quadriceps muscle and reestablish the knee's extension. This will help prevent scar tissue and arthrofibrosis. To regain knee extension, perform a series of straight leg raises. Exercises for knee extension should be performed 2-4 times daily. As you progress with your exercises, increase the resistance of the movements.
When implementing an exercise program for rehabilitation after ACL surgery, be sure to follow your doctor's guidelines. It is important to perform range-of-motion exercises to maximize the strength of the quads, which are the most important muscles in stabilizing the knee while walking. In fact, the loss of three to five degrees of extension in the knee has been linked to increased risk of re-injury after a year. Your physical therapist will develop an exercise program specifically for your knee recovery, based on your physical examination and your rehabilitation goals.
Exercises to avoid over stressing and under stressing the tissues/region
ACL rehabilitation exercises should not compress the injured knee. Instead, focus on strengthening the surrounding muscles. ACL exercises can be done in the comfort of your home with your doctor's advice. These exercises are designed to be performed safely, but should be done in conjunction with a structured rehabilitation program. The most common exercises include seated flexion, side-to-side and forward-and-backward jumping.
Later in rehabilitation, single-leg calf raises are often progressed. Start by lowering one foot below the other. Alternatively, place your feet on a step and lift your hips and thighs off the floor. The objective is to develop proprioception, which is a sense of balance. As you progress through your rehabilitation, your balance may improve.
The main difference between open chain and closed chain exercises is the level of force applied to the knee joint. The ACL is susceptible to injury when it is over-stressed. If it is under-stressed, it may result in further damage. This is why the aforementioned exercises should be performed gradually. In order to protect the newly repaired cartilage, you must avoid over-stressing or under-stressing the tissues/region for ACL rehabilitation.