11 Post-Surgery ACL Rehabilitation Exercises

11 Post-Surgery ACL Rehabilitation Exercises

Are you someone who loves staying active but is recovering from ACL surgery? If that’s you, you’re in the right spot. The ACL, a key part of your knee, helps keep it stable, especially when you’re doing things like jumping, changing directions, or stopping suddenly. ACL surgery is what you get when this part of your knee is hurt. It can be pretty painful and make it tough to do everyday activities or sports.

The surgery usually involves fixing the torn ligament by using a piece from your own patellar tendon, hamstring tendon, or sometimes even from a donor. Now, after this surgery, doing specific exercises is super important. These exercises help your knee get back its strength, work properly, and be stable. It’s a good idea to get help from a professional who can give you a plan that’s just for you. This makes the recovery journey smoother and more guided.

In this post, we highlight for you the different exercises you can go for after you’ve had your ACL surgery. 

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What does the ACL do? 

ACL, also known as anterior cruciate ligament, is quite an important ligament in your knee joint that offers stability and control during movements. It is located in the center of your knee and its main function is to prevent your shinbone from moving too far from the femur, also known as thighbone, and control the rotation of the knee. In other words, it provides support, and is also important in sport activities, requiring different movements, like gymnastics, soccer, basketball, skiing, and more. 

If you are involved in high-impact sports you have higher chances of getting ACL injuries. It can also happen in non-athletic conditions like sudden knee twist, a fall, an accident, or hyperextension of the knee. Moreover, women are more prone to ACL injuries than men, and other factors like muscle strength imbalances, genetics, and previous knee injuries can also contribute to ACL injury. 

11 Post-Surgery ACL Rehabilitation Exercises

Here, let’s quickly take a look at a list of mobility exercises and Strength Exercises, their specific benefits for your knee and also note you can take help of a personal trainer or participating in online zoom classes can significantly enhance the effectiveness of these mobility and strength exercises for your knee.

1. Everyday knee extension:

This particular exercise is quite good for strengthening your quadriceps muscles, which also helps in maintaining the knee joint mobility and stability. Moreover, it can also help in reducing knee stiffness and its stability. 

2. Supine and prone knee extensions:

Now, this one helps in improving the flexibility and range of motion in your knee joints. Besides, it also strengthens the surrounding muscles around your knee, and helps with joint lubrication. 

3. Seated passive-assisted knee extensions:

This workout is ideal for you, if you are recovering from knee injuries or surgeries. It is beneficial for controlled knee motion and  also helps in gentle stretching and strengthening. 

4. Heel slides for knee flexion and extension:

This activity will help in knee flexion and extensive range of motion. If you are suffering from post-surgery or injury, it is one of the most recommended exercises for you as it maintains the overall knee joint flexibility. .

5. Ankle pumps for improved circulation:

Another crucial exercise, this one helps with blood circulation and reduces the chances of blood clots. It’s incredibly helpful in preventing swelling in the ankles feet and strengthens the muscle in the lower legs. 


6. Quadriceps sets for restoring strength:

Quadriceps is a group of muscles at the front of the thigh, and this exercise will help you in strengthening the tone of these muscle groups. It makes sure that you are able to do your daily activities like walking or climbing stairs easily without any hassle. 

7. Hamstring sets in different positions:

Doing hamstring exercises in multiple positions allows you to engage your muscle in various activities. It provides strength for knee stability and leg movement. 

8. Co-contraction exercises for both quadriceps and hamstrings:

This one has to do with engaging your quadriceps and hamstrings. It’s essential for improving muscle coordination, and will help you in your daily activities like running or walking. Plus, it also benefits in eliminating the risk of injuries caused by muscle imbalances. 

9. Leg raises (straight and prone) for quadriceps and hip muscles:

The leg raises exercises are important for gaining strength and flexibility in quadriceps and hip flexors. 

10. Standing hip extensions and hamstring curls:

This particular workout highly focuses on your back thigh muscles, which not only helps in improving the muscle strength but also provides the proper knee and hip alignment And not to mention, it also helps in reducing the strain on your lower back.  

11. Double-leg heel raises and optional single-leg progression:

This exercise is recommended to the people who want to develop excellent calf muscle. It can help you in providing strength to the muscles for activities like walking, jumping, or even climbing the stairs. 

Goal of Early ACL Rehab

Recovering from ACL surgery is a clinical process, which can turn into an emotional journey, which requires resilience and patience. Here are some of the early ACL rehab goals that you should know:

  • Muscle strengthening: If you choose muscle strengthening in the early stages, it will provide additional support for your knee.  You can focus on the muscle strengthening of the hamstrings and quadriceps, which helps in providing stability to the knee joint. Having strong muscles contribute to reducing stress and improving joint stability. 
  • Reduces swelling: If your ACL surgery hurts, you can opt for ACL exercises to minimize swelling and prevent stiffness. People with post-surgery can take rest and apply ice after experts’ suggestions to reduce inflammation. 
  • Helps in weight-bearing: ACL rehab also has gradual weight-bearing exercises, which helps in providing stability, and rebuilding strength in the knee. By doing this, you can build a strong foundation for doing more advanced exercises later in the rehabilitation. 
  • Promote Cardiovascular Health: Doing cardiovascular exercises in the ACL rehab will not only maintain the overall fitness but it also supports the body’s ability to recover progressively and endure more activities on a daily basis.
  • Neuromuscular Control: Focusing on neuromuscular control exercises involves coordination and balance drills, which are vital for retaining the body to react positively to the different movements. It reduces the risk of injuries in future, and also improves the overall joint function. 

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Minimize Pain and Swelling 

If you suffer from intense pain and severe swelling, following a daily routine of proper care can improve the healing process. Create a healthy routine for yourself to control the pain and swelling, where your knee can recover effectively. By choosing for pain relief and rehabilitation, you can find stability and move your knee sooner. It also helps in preventing further complications, which can arise from chronic immobility, such as muscle weakness and stiffness. 

You can follow these two strategies that you can do manage discomfort: 

  • Crutch use & weight bearing recommendations: You can start with light weight-bearing using crutches as the support. However, connect with your healthcare  professional for a planned prescription so prevent overburdening your knee. 
  • Regula icing, elevating, and resting: It is crucial to apply ice packs to the knee area to reduce inflammation. You can also elevate your knee and rest appropriately to give enough time to your knee to heal. 

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Structured Rehabilitation Approach

We understand that recovering from an injury or surgery can be a bit like a roller coaster. It comes with its ups and downs in how you feel both emotionally and physically. To help yourself heal well, it’s important to have a plan for rehabilitation that fits your needs. At the start, the focus is on reducing inflammation and pain in the injured area. As you make progress, you can gradually work on things like flexibility and strength through exercises.

It’s always a good idea to talk to a rehabilitation professional who will be able to give you the right motivation and support during this journey. They will also be able to help you set realistic goals, track your progress, and make any needed changes to your rehabilitation plan.

Final Thoughts! 

In the end, ACL rehabilitation is all about getting back your functionality, strength, and stability, especially after an injury or surgery. It’s a process that takes time and patience. By talking to a healthcare professional and following a proper ACL rehabilitation program, you can take steps toward a successful recovery for your knee. Remember, every little step you take adds up to making yourself a stronger version.

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