ACL/MCL Post Surgery Excercise

My daughter had acl/mcl surgery 6 mos ago, still experiencing some swelling when light running and light acceleration training. She has not redeveloped her quad and ham muscles fully and hip side is still weak. Thinking of getting different PT/AT. What should we focus on? She wants to play high school sport this spring ( 16 yrs old)

Any thoughts

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Oct 23, 2008
post ACL strengthening
by: Bart - SII

Suzanne beat me to the punch! I would definitely agree that she needs to continue working on improving her strength before going back to sports. Normal safe recovery for an ACL reconstruction is somewhere around 6-9 months. The gap is usually based upon muscle strength.

If you look at girth as a measure of how she is progressing, she needs to be within a 1/4-1/2 inch in size at her quads compared to the non surgery side.

Strength should be around 90% or better compared to the other side.

The best way to look at when to return is through functional testing and comparing ease of movement, confidence, stability, and symmetry. All things that your AT/PT should be able to do.

I would highly recommend that she work on a hip/core/trunk dominant program over the next 4-6 weeks - that is going to give her the most benefit and work to help prevent future injury to the knee.

Jumping drills that focus on soft landing and activation of the hips and core are also a great idea if she has clearance from her doctor for those things.

Jump rope, doubles, singles, and alternating feet is a good exercise to improve coordination.

I am working on putting together a new e-book on ACL prevention / post surgery exercises that cover all of these things - target date is January 1, but it may be done before then. Patella Femoral Solutions is a hip/core centered program and may be something to consider if you are looking for a good general knee exercise program. There are also other ACL programs available online.


Oct 21, 2008
by: Suzanne

I am sure Bart will post his comments, but I would most definately have her work on building her muscle strength - both core and leg - before allowing her to resume sports. She can do a lot of exercises at home with simple leg weights and a balance ball that will improve both areas significantly.

Good luck!!

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