Recovering From ACL Surgery 3 Month Rehab Progress Update

After having surgery on Dec 8, 2010 it is now March 6, 2011 3 months or 12 weeks after ACL surgery. This post is about updating my progress and sharing my outlook on returning to activity.

My goals as described in my ACL surgery recovery timeline for rehab up to the 3 month mark included.

Range of Motion – 100% range of motion which was achieved within the first month

Strength – Near full strength – I can do squats and other exercises with very close to the same strength in both legs.

Balance – My goal was to return to near normal balance at the end of month 3. Although my balance has improved it continues to be my greatest stumbling block. I have continued to work on many balance exercises but my right leg remains much more unbalanced than my left. Especially when my eyes are shut my right leg is much more unstable.

Return to activity 3 Months After ACL Surgery
The activities I have been able to return to have included biking with my dog, hikes, light jogging on a treadmill, elliptical but I am yet to jog outside on uneven surfaces.


Soon To Be Mountain Biking After ACL Surgery

The biggest change in my timeline has been my desire to be back skiing this season. After talking it over with my physio we have decided that skiing in April will be pushing my knee too much too quickly. I however, look forward to a trip of hiking and mountain biking in April instead of skiing.

The Top 5 At Home Exercises
I did that helped get me walking 4 days after surgery

Click Here to see the exercises


  1. Derick G says:

    Hey John i had my knee surgery on Dec 3 2010 on my left knee acl and a meniscus repair on my medial front side. Ive been following you since last year but havent made a comment since now. I injured myself from a bad landing playing basketball my left knee buckled heard a snap. It took nearly a year for me to decide if i wanted a Acl surgery or not. I was thinking of doing the blood filter or prc i think? Where they inject your own blood plasma and have a healing process done that way.Its too bad though that my hospital dont practice on that yet. They done it actually on Pittsburg wide receiver Hines ward when he hyper extended his knee. Anyways im like a week ahead of you in rehab here ive been going to they gym and doing a lot of biking on a treadmill , been doing some aqua exercises in the pool like high knees and strectches. I can feel it getting stronger each week. I use a Kinesio Tape on my knee when i wanna do some jump shots in the court. Yes im being careful on it and is scared to reinjured it. So in your 1st surgery where you said you reinjured it on the 8 months? On a relax leg can you push off on your knee ? Cause mine right now when i push forward from behind the knee it can move. I mean in your 8 months post did it get stronger like when you flex it? Im just so anxious like you in skiing ! to play basketball again. I ve been also watching my diet lately cause i dont want to put more pounds on the knees so i pretty much go gym 4 times a week ever since after 3 week of surgery. Your videos have help alot John and i dont even go theraphy i do it all by myself with the help of your videos.

  2. Great Site Jon

    I had acl surgery 2 days after you. So far so good. The only issue I am having at the moment is jogging outside. I get shin splints after only a few minutes (not so on the treadmill). I hate jogging so that doesnt help. Also, I have 100% assisted ROM but not 100% active ROM due to hamstring weakness. Surgeon said that can take 6 months to a year to fully come back. At least my quad strength is back to 100%.

    Good Luck


  3. Jon Haver says:

    Good job on your recovery…sounds like things are going well. I have had the same problem with jogging after ACL surgery and shin splints. What I have been trying to do is start slow run only a little outside and gradually work it back up to a more typical 1/2hr-hr jog.

  4. Great job. I’m hoping to be back on my bike outside at 3 months. Did you have an allograph or self-harvest? It’s not clear from your website. I’m at week 7 post-op, and a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, so they pretty much told me the next thing is jumping, then running.

    Did you get any pain at night? That’s the worst for me. I might have to relegate myself to the sofa to keep from flailing around.

  5. Jon Haver says:

    I had a left hamstring graft(used my right hamstring the first time). My pain at night was only the first week since then I havent had any. Flailing around could do it…good luck!

  6. Graham Gillette says:

    Thanks for creating this site. I had ACL/meniscus surgery 11 days ago. I am quite pleased with the recovery thus far. Extension is nearly 100% and bending is coming. I am committed to PT. I was fitted with the smaller (bendable) brace today. My quad is picking up strength every day. The doc advised me to keep using the crutches for another two weeks. Is he being overly cautious – can I put the crutches down sometimes, or am a being reckless?

  7. Jon Haver says:

    He may be being cautious but if thats what the doctor ordered I would follow him. You can walk slowly with almost full weight on the legs but still have the crutches there just for security.

  8. Graham Gillette says:

    I hear you. I had a good discussion about this with my Physical Therapist this morning. I am able to place full weight on the leg without any difficulty. We agreed I might want to use the crutches for extended walks, but that for normal movement, I am safe to leave them behind.

    I am two weeks out from surgery today. I am extremely pleased with the recovery. My range of motion has increased more than 20 degrees in five days and the ability to extend the leg completely has been achieved. Still have a ways to go, but I cannot complain in the least.

    Your advice and that of other ACL veterans rings true. Recovery is directly linked to the patient’s dedication to PT.

  9. I am a senior and tore my ACL in the middle of my senior basketball season…talk about bad luck! I had ACL reconstruction surgery on my left knee Jan. 12, 2011. I have been going to physical therapy 3 days a week for the past 3 months and looking at this website I know that I am on track for a full recovery! Thank you for all of your advice and postings!

  10. Jon Haver says:

    Dani…good job on your recovery!

  11. Brandon Lucas says:

    I’m four months post op, ACL meniscus surgery, I have full assisted range of motion, but from the standing position i can not bring my heel up to 90 degrees not even 45. Does this mean theres a problem? also I still feel and hear alot of popping sounds, kinda like when you pop your knuckles but inside my knee. I’m in the miltary and I was hoping to be able to be back to playing for my units tackle football team in august, is that too risky?

  12. Im just 2 days after surgery and kinda suprised at how little pain there is except my doctor wants me to go heal to butt 20 times 3 times a day OUCH!!

  13. Hello! I also tore my ACL during my senior basketball season! But it was last year (January 2010), even though I just had surgery two weeks ago. I was wondering about one thing, though, because during physical therapy, when I’m doing the exercise where I sit on the bed and let my leg dangle and have to kick it up, I feel a bit of the popping pressure in my knee, almost exactly how it felt before surgery. My physical therapist says it’s normal and lots of patients have popping phases while the knee is still recovering, but I’m worried that it’s not completely fixed. I was wondering if you have any popping after surgery or if you’ve heard about it being a normal issue?

  14. Jon Haver says:

    Brandon, the reason you cant lift your leg past 45 degrees un-assisted is due to your hamstring not being strong enough yet. Do some hamstring specific exercises which can include swiss ball leg curls, biking or stationary exercises at the gym. Tackle football in Aug would make you around 7 months post op which I believe may be too aggressive.

  15. Jon Haver says:

    I am glad to hear you arent in too much pain! Keep up the good work and even if the exercises are a big pain they will pay off further down the road!

  16. Jon Haver says:

    Yes the popping is normal, the issue is both the swelling inside the knee as well as the damage that was done to the knee that cant be fixed with surgery. When I walk up and down stairs I have some clicking that happens.

  17. Jon so glad I found this site. I am very apprehensive about the coming procedure. I have a 3rd degree taer of my MCL and also tore my ACL. I suffered a bad knee to knee hit in a hockey game and at 47 I am looking for recovery ideas so so glad to see that All my pre conceived notions of what will be after surgery have somewhat been calmed seeing you up and around 1 week and 2 weeks post is very comforting to see I hope to have the same results.

  18. Hi I tore my ACl and meniscus while skiing. I had ACl reconstruction and meniscus repair. I am three and a half months post op. the doctor and PT keep telling me I am “behind” in recovery, showing a very weak quad. I walk slow and use small steps to tighten the quad when I walk. I feel like I am doing something wrong because I am not walking better. I can bike and use ecliptic crosstrainer but it hurts to lift the leg using my quad and it is tough to lift 10 pounds, but I can do three sets of ten. Is this normal? my flex is at 130 degrees but can not seem to get it to 140 like my good leg. I feel like a failure because my doctor keeps telling me I should be farther along. It is not that I have pain, but the normal flexion from straight to bent is still difficult and there is still crunching when doing certain things and can not walk steps with full weight.

  19. Jon Haver says:

    Doctors can be egotistical and if you are behind their “timeline” they can think it makes them look bad. Everyone has their pace and if you are constantly getting better week after week(even if its slow) and you are doing your exercises and physio regularly than you are in good shape. Both your physio and doctor like to see “fast” recoveries because then they can take the credit for it but if a patient has a “slow” recovery then the patient must be doing something wrong…this is obviously bs. Like I said if you are gradually getting better and doing your exercises than dont worry about the recovery timeline is, since your body will heal at its rate.

  20. Jon Haver says:

    Tom – Good luck with the surgery and recovery…too bad the NHL playoffs will be over by the time you have your surgery….post NHL/NBA playoffs Sportscenter gets pretty boring! Hope you enjoy watching baseball!

  21. Yes Jon your right a terrible time for TV to Re-hab. Dont know how my grade III tear of my MCL will effect my Rehab progress on my ACL?? Cant find much on here that discusses Rehab on both at the same time. slightest turn of the knee and the MCL just sends that sharp pain right through the entire knee. Just 8 days to go till surgery will keep u posted Thanks again

  22. Hey Jean. My name is Iryna. I am a pro soccer player. I had acl tear almoust 4 month ago. 4 march 2011 while playing a soccer game. My knee just bent to the opposite side and i couldn;t get back to myself for about 2- sec…. My advice to everyone on their recovery is: Don;t run on the city roads like asphalt – it is very bad for you knees – it s terrible for your knees. Go to the park and run in the grass – in the field, on the ground, in the forest land but not on asphalt – it fucks your knees badly.. sorry for my speech but it’s real true:)

  23. Hey Jon… I am totally with you – a lot of the doctors don;t say that it is good to prepare the knee before the surgery – so… coz after 1 month being wrapped so tight – it does make to learn how to walk again… so if your muscles will be prepared – it won;t so hurtfull and it wonlt take so much time to recover

  24. i had my ACL tear on 4 march , 11, i am a pro soccer player, i recover myself all my life after different injures. ACL tear is really hard and long term. My advice to you is not to hurry skiing – because too much pressure on your knees. – not before 9 month recovery… what about running – i know that running in the city is the worst thing you can offer to your knees… never ever jog, run or whatever on asphalt – it does brake your knees. If you like to run – go to the park, sand, snow, forest land, field – NO ASPHALT!!!

  25. I was glad to see your post, Lisa, as my situation is very similar. I’m 3 months post-op (ACL & meniscus) and have had some trouble with quad strength and flexion too. I still have to do quad sets to get full straightening at times and I’m at 125 degree flex. I can do steps going up okay, but going down is still one foot at a time. My PT says I’m not behind in recovery, however, so we’re both doing fine. Hang in there!

  26. Jon, thank you for all of your help! It sounds like you got back to running on the treadmill pretty quickly. I’m a runner who’s 3 months post-op (ACL & meniscus) and have heard different things from my doctor and PT. The doctor said 4 mos and my PT says at least 6 mos post-op. What are your thoughts and how do you know if you’re ready to try the treadmill?

  27. will be a week tomorrow since my ACL replacement. Have some moderate swelling but the pain has not been so bad I can go about 5-6 hrs now without any pain meds. Im about 7 degrees from completely straight on the new knee. My range of motion is coming along will g to my 3rd day of PT tomorrow. Had to put a compression sock on 2 days ago due to the swelling in my lower part of the leg and ankle. Continuing to ice and elevate and doing some exercises at home 3x”s a day Does this sound on track to where I should be? Have nothing to compare or gauge where I should be at this point so its frustrating and all this laying on my back is getting a bit boring. Hope everyone is coming along well with yours Tom

  28. Info here is very helpful. I get concerned I won’t get back to “normal” but it seems I’m not doing to bad. I fell 6 months ago and broke my ankle have major plates and pins in it now. Then as I was starting PT for it I realized my knee was very unstable. An MRI showed that I had also torn my ACL. So 4 months after fall I had ACL allograft surgery. Then 2 weeks later as I was starting to put weight on my leg my foot was in unbearable pain. I had a Mortons neuroma. So yesterday I had a cortisone shot in that! Now 3 weeks post op of ACL Still have full brace on for another week or so. I’m a female in mid 50’s and have gained so much weight being off my feet for 6 months. I worry I’ll never be in shape and walking normally again!