Best ACL Exercises | How to Recover From ACL Reconstruction Surgery | Phase 2

Learn more about ACL reconstruction rehabilitation following ACL reconstruction surgery here:

Welcome to Dr. Matthew Boes’s ACL Reconstruction Rehabilitation video series. This video is designed to help maximize your recovery following ACL reconstruction surgery. The goals of our Phase 2 program for ACL reconstruction rehabilitation are to improve range of motion to normal and restore normal gait pattern. This phase should be conducted within 2-4 weeks following surgery. Remember the following as you engage in Phase 2 ACL reconstruction rehabilitation exercises:

Continue with stretching exercises [1-6 below] 3 times per day to increase motion
Motion goal = Full extension to full bending compared to the uninvolved knee by week 4 post-op
Start prone hangs [3 below] with ankle weights if full extension is not yet achieved
Conduct light strengthening [7-17 below], balance [19-22 below], and core [29-33] exercises daily – start with one set of 12-15 reps and progress to two sets of 20 reps
Okay to add ankle weights for straight leg raise
For gait exercises [#23-28] start with one pass per exercise [approx. 20 ft]; increase to two passes as tolerated
Use light stationary bike [10-15 minutes only] once you’ve achieved enough bending of knee to clear pedal rotation
More than 15 minutes can cause irritation and swelling at this point
This program involves no special equipment and the majority of the exercises can easily be conducted at home (a jump mat or yoga mat may be helpful, as well as some light dumbbells as you progress with strengthening; a stopwatch or timer can be used for many exercises)
It is important to perform all exercises on both legs – this will help prevent imbalance between the rehab and non-rehab knee

The following ACL balance and gait exercises, which are demonstrated in this video, should be conducted during phase 2 of your ACL reconstruction rehab:

Heel props
Flexion hangs
Prone hangs
Hamstring stretching
Calf stretching
Patellar mobilizations
STRENGTH – Straight leg raises
STRENGTH – Knee extension 40-90 degrees
STRENGTH – Mini-squats – 0-40 degrees
sTRENGTH – Leg press – 0-30 degrees
STRENGTH – hamstring curls – leg wEIGHTS
STRENGTH – Lateral lunges
STRENGTH – Squat and rock
Stationary bike
Balance – front & back rock, feet staggered
Balance – single leg
Balance – tandem walking heel to toe
Balance – plyo ball sit and rock, leg raiseS
Gait – step overs forward
Gait – step overs backward
Gait – forward high knee walk
Gait – backward high knee walK
Gait – forward high hurdle with hip circles
Gait – backward high hurdle with hip circles
Core – abdominal isometrics
Core – crunches
Core – reverse crunches
Core – diagonal crunches
Core – back extension

Icing is very important after each therapy session, so be sure to place an ice pack or cooling pad on the affected shoulder for 10 minutes to help limit any irritation from exercise. If the affected joint is stiff, try using moist heat for 10 minutes prior to exercise to help loosen things up.

This is a comprehensive program involving strength, balance, plyometric, agility, cardio and core exercises. You will likely find yourself in much better shape in terms of strength and balance after completing the entire six-phase program. This video should not be used as a substitute for regular physical therapy visits and guidance from your physician. Only progress from one phase to the next based on recommendation from your physician. Most therapy regimens, particularly after ACL reconstruction surgery, are based on a healing timeline. Progressing too quickly, even though it may feel okay at first, may put you at risk for injury. Regular physical therapy visits are valuable for giving you feedback on your progress and helping to ensure you are doing exercises properly. If you develop any questions or concerns regarding your condition while using this video, contact your physician. Best of luck in your recovery from your ACL reconstruction.
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