So you’ve been diagnosed with an ACL tear, what’s next?
In this month’s posts we’ll be talking about your conservative and surgical options. To keep it simple,
we will only talk about ACL tears in isolation (when theACL is the only thing damaged.)
Below we have listed a few reasons briefly explaining things you may consider before opting for a surgical or conservative approach to ACL rehabilitation.
- Takes longer to start rehabilitation
- Cost more than conservative
- Less likely to re injure or injure something else in the knee
- Mentally knowing you have an ACL
- More likely to reinjure
- Knee is less stable stable initially
- More cost effective than surgery
- Resume rehabilitation quicker
- Return to sport can be quicker
Phase 1: Prehabilitation
Pre-hab or prehabilitation is rehabilitation before your intended surgery. The aim of pre-hab is to allow an individual to start their recovery earlier and ensure they bounce back from surgery easier. In the event of an ACL tear most likely the individual will require some period of rest, however surgery is not always around the corner for everyone. Sometimes surgery can be up to 6 to 8 months after the initial injury. It is important to make the most of these periods to increase strength around the knee, improve balance and reduce the deficits between legs. This period of prehab has been seen to lead to better outcomes post surgery including better knee function, reduced reinjury risk and improved performance.
Physiotherapists play a vital role in a person’s prehab. Physiotherapists can tailor an exercise program based on the patient’s severity of their injury and any other restrictions given by their surgeon.
Phase 2: Strength Building
Whether you opted for surgery or plan to conservatively manage your ACL injury, you have to go through specific phases in your rehab journey. The second phase of your rehab will involve improving your strength, balance and neuromuscular control. This is one of the most important phases of your rehab as a poor strength foundation means reduced speed and power later on and decreased performance as well as increased injury risk.
Here are some exercises that your physio may include in this part of your rehab.
If you are needing help with ACL Tear rehabilitation, book an appointment with one of our Physios.
Phase 3: Running, Agility and Landing
After rebuilding sufficient strength, the next phase of rehabilitation involves relearning how to run, jump and land. This is where exercises can be as creative as you would like and can start mimicking movements that you would have to do while playing sport.
Here are some exercise ideas:
- Weighted lunge
- Trap Bar Deadlifts
- Single leg proprioception
Return to Sport
This is the point at which every athlete anticipates returning back to. Rehab in this phase should be highly individualized to the athlete, integrating usual training activities and exercises. Your physiotherapist will focus on getting your body mentally, emotionally and physically ready to return to sport.