At Home ACL Surgery Recovery Guide – Download

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I am glad you are intersted in seeing what I have done to recover for the LAST TIME from ACL surgery. 

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This page lists all the exercises I have been instructed to complete as part of my ACL surgery rehab. The exercises have been broken down by week they are completed and most will include a brief video tutorial showing how I complete the exercise.

LEGAL STUFF

Dont do any exercise unless instructed by a medical professional which I am not

Most of these exercises aim at improving one of the three main functions of the ACL…

  1. Range of Motion
  2. Strength
  3. Balance

ACL Surgery Exercises – Week 1

Repeat all exercises three times daily unless otherwise instructed

Heel Prop

  • Hold for 1-2 minutes 2-3 times
  • Improves range of motion(get knee back to 0 degrees ROM)

The heel prop or leg extension exercise is used to help get the knee bending back to 0 degrees. This is the exercise I start every rehab session with as it relaxes the knee and I find the next exercises less painful. The natural weight of the knee gives enough pressure immediately after surgery to cause a stretch and you don’t have to apply any additional pressure.

Heel Slide

  • 20 slow slides on injured leg
  • Improves range of motion
  • Increases hamstring and quad strength

The heel slide is one of the most common ACL surgery recovery exercises and is so because the one exercise helps improve range of motion at both the closed angle and open angle of the knee in addition to improving the strength of the quad and hamstrings. This exercise will be repeated throughout the recovery process but in the first week no tension(weight or band) will be applied.

Quad Sets

  • Squeeze and hold for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times
  • Improves range of motion
  • Improves quad strength

Quad sets both improve the range of motion and help increase the strength of the quad. The final goal of the quad set is to have the quad muscle beside the knee firm up to where it was before the surgery.

Prone Knee Flexion

  • Slowly raise and lower injured leg holding femur steady, hold at extremes for 5 seconds, 10 times
  • Improves range of motion
  • Improves quad and hamstring muscle timing

This post ACL surgery rehab exercise is used to again increase the range of motion of the knee as well as improve the timing and communication of the hamstring and quad. After surgery your muscles will feel “dumb” and not communicate with eachother effectively this exercise will get the quad and hamstring “talking” to each other and begin the process of improving the muscle timing around your knee.

Ankle Pump and Rotation

  • Pump the ankles 20 times slowly (or do routinely throughout the day)
  • Rotate the ankles 20 times slowly (or do routinely throughout the day)
  • Reduces swelling

The purpose of the ankle pump(like pushing on a gas peddle) and ankle rotation is to help reduce swelling in the knee and lower leg after ACL surgery.

Straight Leg Extension

(only do this exercise if instructed by your medical professional – well… that goes for all them but especially this one)

  • 20 slow raise/lowers
  • Increase quad strength
  • Increase quad and hamstring muscle timing

The straight leg raise can help timing between the hamstring and quads to hold the knee steady while at the same time improving quad/hip strength.

Hip Abduction/Adduction

  • Raise and lower your leg while on your side 20 times slowly, turn over and repeat
  • Increase upper leg strength
  • Improves muscle timing of leg

Similar to the straight leg extensions the hip abduction and adduction exercise can improve muscle timing of the leg as well as increase muscle strength.

Walking

  • Walk 10-20 steps forward, backward and sideways
  • Increase leg strength
  • Improves balance

Walking as early as possible is often recommended as one of the primary goals after knee surgery. It is very important in being able to progress to the next step of ACL surgery recovery. At the end of week one if possible it is good to be walking short distances with a limp.

ACL Surgery Exercises – Week 2

Week 2 exercises include many of the same ones as week 1, however the big change with week 2 is moving the exercises into a more circuit style workout. This exercise circuit consists of each exercise completed. With the reduction in swelling ankle pumps and rotations were removed from the exercises. Week 2 also includes balance exercises being introduced

Heel Prop

Heel Slide

Quad Sets

Prone Knee Flexion

Straight Leg Extension

Hip Abduction/Adduction

Walking

New exercises for week 2…

Static Lunge

  • Stand with knee 1/2 lunge distance in front, bend knee making sure it does not go in front of toes, do not go past 90 degrees
  • Increase leg strength
  • Improves balance

This exercise is great for getting some strength back into your affected quad. It also can be very difficult to do this exercise with your balance off due to your knee surgery.

Sit to Stand

  • Sit with your legs at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor, under control stand up and sit down 20 times
  • Increase leg strength

Sit to stand is a good progression before body weight squats, it provides a good value

Balance on 1 Leg

  • Stand on your leg with full weight and balance on it for 1 minute
  • Improves balance

Balance can take awhile to come back after surgery, standing an balancing on one leg can greatly improve your balance. Make sure to have balance support close by to ensure you do not lose balance.

Calf Raises

  • 10-20 calf raises on both legs
  • Increase calf strength
  • Improves balance
  • Increases flexibility

Calf raises are helpful in improving balance, strength and flexibility. Use something to put your hand on to help with balance. To help increase flexibility do full range of motion calf raises while standing on a step.

ACL Surgery Exercises – Week 3

Week 3 continues the circuit style of week 2 and is a lot more of the same.

Week 3 should see an increase in balance and muscle confusion exercises. Doing the same exercises but on a different surface. Foam matt, thick carpet while also continuing to include balance exercises.

Heel Prop

  • Hold for 1-2 minutes 2-3 times
  • Improves range of motion(get knee back to 0 degrees ROM)

The heel prop or leg extension exercise is used to help get the knee bending back to 0 degrees. This is the exercise I start every rehab session with as it relaxes the knee and I find the next exercises less painful. The natural weight of the knee gives enough pressure immediately after surgery to cause a stretch and you don’t have to apply any additional pressure.

Heel Slide

  • 20 slightly faster heel slides on injured leg
  • Improves range of motion
  • Increases hamstring and quad strength

The heel slide is one of the most common ACL surgery recovery exercises and is so because the one exercise helps improve range of motion at both the closed angle and open angle of the knee in addition to improving the strength of the quad and hamstrings. This exercise will be repeated throughout the recovery process but in the first week no tension(weight or band) will be applied.

Quad Sets

  • Squeeze and hold for 10 seconds, repeat 10 times (add additional stimulation with your hand gently squeezing the quad to ensure a strong squeeze)
  • Improves range of motion
  • Improves quad strength

Quad sets both improve the range of motion and help increase the strength of the quad. The final goal of the quad set is to have the quad muscle beside the knee firm up to where it was before the surgery.

Prone Knee Flexion

  • Slowly raise and lower injured leg holding femur steady, hold at extremes for 5 seconds, 10 times
  • Improves range of motion
  • Improves quad and hamstring muscle timing

This post ACL surgery rehab exercise is used to again increase the range of motion of the knee as well as improve the timing and communication of the hamstring and quad. After surgery your muscles will feel “dumb” and not communicate with eachother effectively this exercise will get the quad and hamstring “talking” to each other and begin the process of improving the muscle timing around your knee.

Ankle Pump and Rotation

  • Pump the ankles 20 times slowly (or do routinely throughout the day)
  • Rotate the ankles 20 times slowly (or do routinely throughout the day)
  • Reduces swelling

The purpose of the ankle pump(like pushing on a gas peddle) and ankle rotation is to help reduce swelling in the knee and lower leg after ACL surgery.

Straight Leg Extension

(only do this exercise if instructed by your medical professional – well… that goes for all them but especially this one)

  • 20 leg raise/lowers
  • Increase quad strength
  • Increase quad and hamstring muscle timing

The straight leg raise can help timing between the hamstring and quads to hold the knee steady while at the same time improving quad/hip strength.

Hip Abduction/Adduction

  • Raise and lower your leg while on your side 20 times slowly, turn over and repeat
  • Increase upper leg strength
  • Improves muscle timing of leg

Similar to the straight leg extensions the hip abduction and adduction exercise can improve muscle timing of the leg as well as increase muscle strength.

Walking

Continue not pushing yourself more than you are ready. 

Static Lunge

  • Stand with knee 1/2 lunge distance in front, bend knee making sure it does not go in front of toes, do not go past 90 degrees
  • Increase leg strength
  • Improves balance

This exercise is great for getting some strength back into your affected quad. It also can be very difficult to do this exercise with your balance off due to your knee surgery.

Sit to Stand

  • Sit with your legs at 90 degrees and your feet flat on the floor, under control stand up and sit down 20 times
  • Increase leg strength

Sit to stand is a good progression before body weight squats, it provides a good value

Balance on 1 Leg

  • Stand on your leg with full weight and balance on it for 1 minute
  • Improves balance

Balance can take awhile to come back after surgery, standing an balancing on one leg can greatly improve your balance. Make sure to have balance support close by to ensure you do not lose balance.

Calf Raises

  • 10-20 calf raises on both legs
  • Increase calf strength
  • Improves balance
  • Increases flexibility

Calf raises are helpful in improving balance, strength and flexibility. Use something to put your hand on to help with balance. To help increase flexibility do full range of motion calf raises while standing on a step.

 

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