Getting an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury is something that’s dreaded and feared by just about every competitive athlete.
For all its ability to withstand significant forces and translate the body’s powerful muscular energy into motion, the knee can in some ways be a relatively delicate joint.
A twisting force applied at just the wrong angle can cause significant damage to the ACL and other underlying structures of the knee.
If you do have an ACL injury, then you’ll be forced off your current training schedule. Depending on the nature of the ACL injury, and the type of treatment you need to undergo, your ACL injury recovery time may range anywhere from a few weeks to up to a year.
Because ACL injuries can range from relatively minor to very severe, it’s important to make sure that you consult with a doctor or a sports therapy expert in order to get an accurate diagnosis of your injury, and to make sure that you’re taking the proper steps to rehabilitate your ACL and get yourself back to your normal training load.
Minor tears to the ACL may only involve a recovery time of a few weeks (or perhaps a month or two). But if you need to undergo ACL surgery, then you’re in for a much longer process – one that will necessarily include a rehabilitation program.
You will begin with very small range of motion exercises in the first week or two after surgery. The first goal is getting to the point of being able to fully extend your leg.
In fact, this will be a significant point of reference throughout the rehabilitation process; how easily are you able to fully extend your leg? There will be scar tissue that builds up around the site of the surgery, and properly breaking up this scar tissue is a key part of recovery.
Within the next few weeks of rehabilitation you’ll likely begin some type of gentle strengthening and aerobic work. Even slow walking or cycling on a stationary bike will go a long way toward rehabilitating your ACL and helping your recover. One to two months after surgery you’ll probably begin incorporating balance drills into your rehabilitation work.
ACL Injury Recovery – Be Prepared To Work Hard
Getting yourself back to your previous level of athletic performance involves more than just building up your strength; you’ll also need to get your balance and form back to its previous levels.
Beginning approximately two to three months after surgery you’ll begin to ease back into sports specific work.
Working with a professional therapist is absolutely essential throughout rehabilitation but especially at this point because your knee might feel like it’s completely healed, but it won’t be strong enough to return to a full workload.
You’ll probably want to go faster with your recovery, so having expert objective advice and feedback can prevent you from doing too much too soon.
By the same token, progressing too slowly can be a problem too.
Going too slowly with your ACL injury recovery program can allow too much scar tissue to build up, and make it difficult to restore your full range of motion.
Find yourself a physical therapy expert to work with and you’ll be sure to get back to your prior performance levels as soon as is safely prudent.