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anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury, you lose leg
strength and motion and stability of the knee. It is important that you regain
your leg strength and motion as soon as possible, whether you choose to have
surgery for your ACL injury or not. Exercises to regain muscle strength and
knee motion should begin before you start treatment, whether treatment is a
rehabilitation (rehab) program only or surgery plus rehab.
The exercises outlined here are common exercises used
after an ACL injury. But your doctor may create a specific set of exercises for
you. Check with your doctor before you do any exercises.
anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four
knee ligaments that connect the upper leg bone (femur)
with the large lower leg bone (tibia). The ACL stabilizes knee movement by:
See a picture of the
knee and the ACL.
When the ACL tears, the blood vessels around the
ligament tear and blood can fill the knee joint, causing swelling. This can
result in both pain and loss of motion. The inactivity following an ACL injury
often results in weakening of the muscle in the front of your thigh, the
quadriceps. If nothing is done after an ACL injury, you may develop
chronic ACL deficiency—your knee may become less
stable, leading to abnormal knee joint movement and premature
Treatment is needed for an ACL injury. Treatment
is either a rehab program or ACL surgery followed by a rehab program. Surgery
is generally more successful if you condition your knee and surrounding muscles
before starting your treatment. This can be achieved by doing a few simple
exercises. Your doctor will help you decide when to start these
An ACL injury can result in long-term injury to your
If nothing is done after an ACL injury, you may
develop chronic ACL deficiency—your knee may become less stable, leading to
abnormal knee joint movement and premature osteoarthritis.
Continue to Why?
important to begin doing some simple exercises after injuring your ACL and
before treatment begins. Regaining leg strength and knee motion will help your
treatment be more successful, whether your rehab program is done in conjunction
with surgery or not.
It is important to do some simple exercises after
injuring your ACL and before treatment begins.
Exercises to help you regain leg strength and
knee motion will help your treatment be more successful, whether it is a rehab
program or surgery with a rehab program.
Continue to How?
Quad sets, straight-leg
raises, and heel slides are common exercises used after an ACL injury. As
symptoms decrease and you are able to bear weight, side-lying leg lifts, glute
sets, bridges, mini-squats, heel raises, and prone hamstring
curls might be added. But your doctor may want you to tailor exercises to your
specific injury. Check with your doctor before you do any exercises.
You should start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of the
exercises. Do not push yourself to the point that you feel pain. Talk to your
doctor about how to best progress.
Anyone who has injured their ACL can do these
Although these exercises are commonly used
before starting treatment for an ACL injury, talk to your doctor before
starting them. Your doctor may want you to do exercises specific to your
Continue to Where?
For more information about exercises for an ACL injury, talk to:
Return to topic:
Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Injuries
April 5, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Freddie H. Fu, MD - Orthopedic Surgery
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