you have decided to have an ACL reconstruction, you can start to
prepare for the surgery by going through rehabilitation. The "pre-hab"
has several important benefits, and can often make a large difference
in how your post ACL surgery rehabilitation progresses.
Pre surgery exercises do not necessarily need to be done within a clinic. You may be referred by your physician for rehab, or you may not. The most important thing is that you do some type of exercises prior to surgery, whether on your own or with a clinicain.
an ACL tear your knee is swollen, painful, and dysfucntional. You don't
have full range of motion, and it is not in a good condition for
surgery. Most physicians will wait several weeks after the initial
injury before performing an ACL reconstruction.
The swelling and inflammation within the knee after injury must be reduced before surgery. If it is not, then the knee is more likely to develop excessive scarring, and more post operative complications.
The other reason pre surgical exercises are important is to restore normal range of motion and quadriceps strength. And it will also get you familiar with the exercises you will be doing after surgery, as they are often very similiar.
Don't forget the need for R.I.C.E., as this will help to reduce swelling and pain as well.
are lots of different types of exercises that can be done before ACL
reconstruction. The most common ones, and the ones that I have my
patients do include quad sets, towel pulls, straight leg raises,
hamstring stretches and calf stretches.
Each of these exercises works to improve range of motion, decrease swelling, decrease pain, and improve strength.
Heel slides help to
improve range of
motion. Start by placing a towel around your heel, holding each end
with your hands. You should be able to slide your heel along the floor
using the towel.
Now, relax your leg, and use your arms to pull the towel, and your heel, toward you. As your knee bends, you will feel a tightness in your knee, almost like it is going to explode. This is because of the swelling.
Pull your heel to the point of mild discomfort and tightness, and then let it sit for just a few seconds. Then, push your leg out straight, and repeat.
Straight leg raises start with a quad set, and then you lift your heel 8-10 inches off of the floor. Hold for 10 seconds and then relax. Try to concentrate on keeping your knee as straight as possible. When you first start this exercise, you may have trouble getting your knee straight, or lifting your heel. But keep trying.
Hamstring stretching before ACL reconstruction helps to improve your flexibility and to keep your muscles from spasming after injury. Any comfortable hamstring or calf stretch will work. The "figure 4 hamstring stretch in the picture is very simple and effective. Straighten your leg all the way out, and then reach towards your toes, bending at the waist, not at the back.
You can stretch your calf by
placing a towel around your toes, and using your arms to pull your foot
back towards you.
Hold the stretch for several seconds and repeat. You can also do this with your heel propped up, and work on improving your extension range of motion.