Because I did not do the proper physio after my first ACL surgery I returned to soccer and quickly re-tore my ACL. If I had only done these exercises I believe I would not have re-torn my ACL.
I share this story on here because I don’t want it to happen to me again and I hope by sharing my story I can encourage other people recovering from ACL surgery to do their physio properly. In this post I will go over how/why I re-tore my ACL after my first surgery and the exercises that I have been doing to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
How Did I Re-Tear My ACL?
Right after I graduated from University after spending 1-2 months studying and doing very little Physio I moved to a new city to start a job. In the new city there was a competitive soccer league that I was looking forward to joining.
1 week after I arrived and 8 months after my surgery I decided to go play. Disregarding the fact I had done very little physio over the last 2 months and my wife’s advice (fiance at the time) that playing was a huge mistake since my knee wouldn’t be ready.
30 minutes into the game I was running down sideline and planted my foot to cross the ball close to the touch line. As soon as I swung my left leg across my body it torqued my right leg planted in the ground and I felt a pop.
You haven’t done any physio the last 2 months and shouldn’t play! I am only coming because someone is going to have to drive you to the hospital.
My wife before I left for Soccer
(I was actually able to drive myself – small victory)
Why Did I Have To Endure This Pain? (Verbal and Phsyical)!
What should I have done and what should you do if you don’t want to suffer the same fate? Well it really isn’t that complicated. The physio you do right after surgery is great to get you back on your feet but you really need to step it up a level if you want to return to sports.
The medical reason that I tore my ACL was that my muscles, glutes specifically, were not trained to control sudden deceleration and cutting so my ACL took all the torque and couldnt handle it.
Its because of my story that I am happy to share with you the exercise course I wish I had had after my first surgery!
ACL Injury Prevention Exercises
These exercises put together by Jedd and Jerry who have been featured in Men’s Health and Muscle & Fitness magazines aim to prevent exactly the kind of injury I had.
They are both trainers who have some female Lacross teams(one of the highest potential for tears!) going on 8 years with no tears!
If you are planning on returning to activities at 8 months I recommend you work with your Physio and try to start all these exercises at the 6 month mark and complete 2 weeks of each phase.
The exercises they recommend are as follows…
Phase 1 Box Deceleration
In this phase it is recommended you jump onto a raised surface, by jumping onto this surface you are training your glute muscles to slow you down. The key is to land as softly as possible.
You can start at a smaller elevation and then work your way up.
Phase 2 Stopping Drills
In this phase we are shown several stopping positions which simulate what we experience in sports. By doing these stopping exercises we should learn how to squeeze our glutes which help minimize the risk of tearing our ACLs.
If doing these activities on a hard surface would hurt your knee than you can start on a softer surface such as sand.
The stopping postiions Jedd shows are…
- Athletic Stop (moving forward and stopping)
- Lunge Stop
- Hockey Stop
Phase 3 – Stopping Drills with Take Off
This is the progression from step 2 and the steps are to do the same stops from Phase 2 but add in acceleration after you are stopped.
These are essentially stop and go drills and are absoloutly critical to do in a controlled environment before you return to sports. In this phase the pace of acceleration is not as significant as it will be in the next phase.
Phase 4 – Power Runs
Similar to Phase 3 you need to start retraining your muscles to accelerate. The key in this phase is training your glutes to be explosive again and respond to quick take-offs.
By training by the deceleration and acceleration fast twitch muscles in your legs your muscles will be in a much better position to respond to abrubt movements. The more your muscles control your movement the less force is applied to your ACL.
Phase 5 – Combine Everything
Now you can combine your power runs after stopping in any position. These exercises will teach your muscles to respond to stopping and accelerating in any direction.
I fully believe that if I had followed what Jedd shows here twice a week for 3 months I would not have re-torn my ACL
Phase 6 – Click Here
To get access to videos of each exercise visit Jedds website