Planning on getting your ACL reconstructed? As with the aftermath of any surgical procedure, ACL surgery recovery can be a long, involved, and often unpleasant process. Luckily, you can take a few steps pre- and post-op to make your recovery a little easier.
ACL surgery works best (and surgery recovery is easiest) the more functional your knee is. That’s why specialists recommend following a knee exercise routine in the weeks leading up to your procedure. It might seem counterintuitive, but exercise will help strengthen the surrounding muscle, meaning your freshly reconstructed ACL will have a good support network to lean on and be less likely to complain.
Stick to your ACL surgery recovery exercise plan
Along with doing exercises before the procedure, you will also need to follow a strict workout regimen after. Exercising will help you build and maintain that muscle support network and ensure your muscles and tendons won’t get weaker or stiffer from underuse.
The exact exercise plan may vary from case to case. Still, generally, you can expect to do:
- Hamstring curls to work on your knee flexor muscles
- Wall squats to strengthen your quads, which are the muscles most affected by ACL injuries
- Single-leg stands to work on your joint’s stability
- And riding an exercise bike to get your blood pumping without putting excess pressure on the knee
See more knee-strengthening exercises:
GenuTrain S Pro
Research shows that a mechanical and proprioceptive knee brace like the GenuTrain S Pro (that is, a brace that combines compression knit and supports like straps and stays) can be beneficial for ACL surgery recovery.
- For one, a severe knee injury like an ACL tear can impact your neuromuscular control in the joint, and it, unfortunately, can take a while to build back up to normal even after surgery. The GenuTrain S Pro’s medical-grade compression knit will activate your muscles, improving proprioception (essentially, how well your nerves transmit messages from tissues to the brain). And, by extension, your awareness and control of the joint.
- For two, the ACL is responsible for a lot of stabilisation work, so the ACL knee brace’s supportive straps and stays will come in handy while the ligament recuperates.
With better support and joint function, you'll also get less pain. Without pain, it will be easier for you to get around and do your exercises.
Go to ALL of your scheduled appointments
It can be tempting to miss a check-up here and there, especially if you feel your recovery is going fine. But it’s always best to get a specialist to confirm that things are going well rather than just go with your gut. Issues can pop up even if nothing ‘feels’ wrong. And the earlier you catch them, the better.
Additionally, you shouldn’t ever skip a physiotherapy appointment. Your ACL will need all the support it can get while it heals, and the mobility retraining your physio offers will be a crucial step in achieving that.
We know getting a solid 7-8 hours of sleep a night is not always possible. But it is essential you try, especially while your body is healing. When you sleep, your body releases a natural growth factor, more commonly known as growth hormone. As this hormone is responsible for stimulating tissue growth, getting enough of it will be a key step in your ACL surgery recovery.
Make sure you’re eating plenty of vitamins and protein and a healthy amount of fats and carbohydrates.
- Protein and vitamin D play an essential role in muscle strength and function. Notably, some research shows that low vitamin D levels slow down the recovery of muscle strength after ACL injury and surgery.
- Vitamins C and E, while not directly impacting muscle strength, can help reduce swelling.
- Carbohydrates are essential in giving your body the energy it needs to heal.
- And omega-3 fatty acids can help improve overall joint health, and some studies show that they may also help reduce inflammation.
Take it slow
Yes, you will need to stick to a strict exercise plan before and after surgery. No, we don’t recommend that you avoid moving around. However, reconstructing your ACL can still take a toll on your knee, so don’t jump back into regular activities too fast. Eventually, you should be able to return to sports (even demanding, high-impact ones like tennis, rugby or football), but it will take time and your doctor’s go-ahead.
But you can (and should) gently move and put pressure on the joint while minding your pain levels. Your knee will tell you when enough is enough, and it’s time to sit down.
Lastly, check your incision sites
Modern ACL surgeries aren’t particularly invasive. In most cases, your surgeon will just need to make a couple of small incisions or repair the ligament through keyhole surgery. However, any breach in the skin tissue is important to keep an eye on, as it puts you at risk of infection. Hence, check the surgical site, avoid getting it wet, change any bandage wrapping and use any antiseptics per your doctor’s instructions. If you do end up getting an infection, head to your GP ASAP.
To sum up
As with most surgical procedures, you’ll need to put some work into your ACL surgery recovery. Taking steps like bracing, following your recommended exercise plan, and eating and sleeping right will ensure the best outcomes and an easier recovery.
If you require assistance selecting the right product for your needs or wearing the brace, call us on 1300 668 466 or contact us via live chat.
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