When Can I Walk After ACL Surgery

After acl surgery we are all very interested in getting back to our regular lives. The biggest recovery milestone blocking many of us from our normal lives is being able to walk. This article is to help you understand how long after ACL surgery it will be until you are able to walk again.

After acl surgery you will only be able to walk on crutches resulting in you having a difficult time taking care of yourself. Because of how much not being able to walk affects peoples lives/livelihoods the question of when will they be able to walk after surgery is one of the first ones they ask.

Before I can help answer the question I should define what qualifies as walking… For the purposes of this question walking is when you are able to move on a smooth surface at slow/moderate speed with a minimal limp for short periods of time.

So what is the typical timeline for being able to walk after acl surgery?

The short answer is it can be anywhere from 1-6 weeks until you are walking. For me I was walking 5 days after surgery as shown in the video below. But, like everything else with surgery your recovery time depends on a lot of factors, severity of injury, type of surgery and your age.


After my first surgery I was not able to walk for about 1.5 weeks. One of the biggest reasons was that at the time I was living in a small apartment going to university and had very little reason to move around so I don’t believe I tried walking enough.

6 Tips To Be Able To Walk sooner after acl surgery

When-Can-I-Walk-After-ACL-Surgery

1. Don’t Limp

If you limp after surgery when you start to walk it will actually delay you ability to be able to walk normally. It takes work to re-train your muscles to walk normally so its best to start right away and not limp.

2. Don’t over-commit

Often people are both in a hurry to recover and in a hurry to get out of the house. This combination can lead to problems where people commit to going places where they will be having to walk a lot ie shopping or to a restraunt before they are actually ready to walk that distance. Stay patien and dont over-commit.

3. Practice

Start slow and try often. The longer until you start practicing slowly the longer it will be until you can walk.

4. Start Weight Bearing

Training you leg muscles to be able to walk again is important. To start these muscles being activated its a good idea to start putting weight on your injured leg shortly after surgery.

5. Improve Knee Range of Motion

On of the limitations to being able to walk is whether or not your knees range of motion is adequate. Here are some great exercies to improve your knees range of motion.

6. Reduce Swelling

Similar to your knees range of motion, if you dont reduce the swelling enough your overall recovery time will be slower. So make sure to put in effort to reduce swelling. Here is my favorite technique for reducing swelling.



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

Click Here to see the exercises

Comments

  1. I am amazed you were walking 5 days after your first surgery thats really good. When I had my surgery it took me almost 2 weeks to be walking the way you are in this video.

  2. Hello Jon, I want to first thank you for creating your site; I’ve found it very informative. I’m to have my 2nd ACL surgery in a couple of months(1st one 10 yrs ago) and was hoping to ask a couple questions of you. First one was whether you recommend an allograft or autograft and why. And the second question is do you personally take flexcin or any other joint supplement. Thanks a lot!

  3. Hi Max

    I personally used an autograft(my hamstring) for both surgeries. Based on the long term success it really seems to be statistically a wash in terms of which one is best. I have seen that an allograft has a faster short term recovery. Even though the chance of contracting a disease from an allograft is essentially 0 it still was just a little bothersome so I was happy to go with the autograft. Either way I think your chances of success are pretty much the same.

    For your second question, no I havent been taking any flexcin or anything. Some people have strongly recommended it especially for more “experienced” knees. I cant say either way how helpful it is or isnt.

    Good luck with your second surgery and hope you can be up and walking around quickly!

    Thanks!

  4. It is pretty impressive…However it is important to add that for people who, in addition to their ACL reconstruction, had stiches on their meniscus, they shouldn’t be walking without crutches for a 1 month minimum.

  5. Good overview of some basic recovery tips. I would say however it is very rare for people to start walking 5 days after surgery, for me it took a few weeks before I could even stand up. I did have a medial meniscus and ruptured my ACL so maybe that’s why it took so long.

    • That’s absolutely right. With meniscus damage, you typically should not bear any weight on your bad leg and keep it immobilized for 3-6 weeks.

      For me, I just tore my ACL so like Jon I was taking comparable steps on Day 6 – doing that and walking up and down steps are the milestones that I remember most.

  6. Michelle says:

    Today at 11:45am will see the doctor my first visit since d-day :) Thank you for all your advise i’m feeling pretty darn good. You played a very big role in calming my fears. Owe you a lot of thanks for that. I will e-mail in a few days with updates. Your an up standing guy my friend many, many, many thanks again. Good night :) Michelle

  7. Just wanted to thank you for all the info… I’ve just had my ACL surgery…before that they removed my meniscus. This surgery has been way more painful though. It’s been 2 days since surgery and I’ve tried to work on some range of motion…. No way. I’m shocked about how painful it is. Hopefully it will improve quickly. Do you think this amount of pain and inabliity to move is normal?

  8. I just got I surgery this morning and I am already been walking around with a bit of a limp. It’s really weird and I’m in hardly any pain. Praise God.

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