An introduction to anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries
The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of the major ligaments in the knee acting as a knee stabiliser.
ACL injuries often occur during sports or activities that involve sudden stops, changes in direction, or impacts to the knee.
Surgery, including anterior cruciate reconstruction, may be required to regain knee stability and get back to preinjury activity levels, although non-surgical treatment can also be considered.
Pre-ACL surgery rehabilitation
What to do in the lead-up to your ACL surgery
Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery is an option after an ACL injury. The two most common surgeries are:
- Hamstring tendon graft
- Bone-patella tendon-bone graft
Preoperative physiotherapy is important to:
- Reduce swelling
- Restore entire knee movement
- Maintain and improve quadriceps strength
- Improve knee stabilisers such as the hip, core and calf muscle strength
- Maintain activity levels
What not to do in the lead-up to your ACL surgery
Do not stop being active. It is important to maintain your activity, but you may need to modify the type of exercise you perform to limit any increase in anterior knee pain.
Do not panic and make quick decisions on your ACL rehabilitation options. It is important to discuss all possible options with your physio and consultant.
Please contact the clinic to discuss the optimal recovery plan for your ACL injury with one of our team members.
Exercises you can do in the lead-up to your ACL surgery
Engaging in pre-surgery exercises can help strengthen the knee and improve post-operative outcomes. The aim is to get you to your anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery in the best possible condition.
Preoperative exercises should focus on improving quadriceps strength and muscle strength of the entire lower limb and trunk. Specific markers are expected to meet before anterior cruciate reconstruction surgery.
With a combined total of over 40 years in treating clients, our expert team of physiotherapists and strength coaches will provide effective advice and treatment to reach these markers as safely and quickly as possible.
Post ACL surgery rehabilitation
What to do after your ACL surgery
It is essential to follow an anterior cruciate rehabilitation programme under the guidance of a trained professional to avoid graft failure. ACL rehabilitation will take a minimum of 9 months with 95% taking 12 months or longer. ACL rehabilitation follows a structured pathway where certain standards of muscle strength need to be achieved before you can move on to the next level of the programme.
Our West London Physio clinic team takes you through a sport-specific ACL rehabilitation programme to restore you to pre-injury activity levels.
Get in touch with us now to discuss your rehabilitation journey.
Please contact the clinic, and our team will guide you through the optimal recovery plan for your ACL injury.
What not to do after your ACL surgery
Do not rush the process of ACL rehabilitation. It is widely accepted that returning to sport-specific preinjury levels before 9 months increases the risk of further ACL injury by 50%. ACL rehabilitation follows a structured pathway where certain standards of muscle strength need to be achieved before you can move on to the next level of the programme.
Exercises you can do after your ACL surgery
Our West London Physio clinic uses the latest evidence-based techniques to deliver advanced ACL rehabilitation. Our team is trained to ensure exercises are sport-specific, achievable, and safe to support your recovery.
To get you back to preinjury activity levels, we use neuromuscular training, which is a method that combines sport-specific and fundamental movements, including:
- Restoring range of movement
- Muscle strength training
- Eccentric quadriceps training
- Core strength
- Dynamic stability
- Agility exercises
Non-operative ACL rehab
Anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction is not for everyone. Non-operative ACL rehabilitation is an option and should be assessed on a case-by-case situation dependent on:
- Daily and athletic function
- Preinjury activity levels
What are the 10 stages of ACL rehab?
ACL rehab involves a progression from early post-surgery care, pain management, and range of motion recovery to advanced stages of strength, balance, and sports-specific training. The final step aims for a full return to sports, with a continued focus on maintenance and injury prevention to ensure long-term knee health.
How do you rehab an ACL reconstruction?
It typically takes 12 months to fully recover, and a gradual return to sports or activities should be guided by a sport specific professional. Compliance with the prescribed ACL rehabilitation plan is crucial for successful recovery and return to preinjury activity levels.
What is involved in ACL rehab?
ACL rehabilitation typically consists of a structured programme aimed at restoring knee stability, muscle strength and function. It includes phases such as:
- Early range of motion exercises
- Strengthening of leg muscles
- Neuromuscular training
- Eccentric quadriceps training
- Proprioception training to improve balance and coordination
At our London clinic your ACL rehabilitation will be supervised by a sport specific physical therapist to get you back to preinjury activity levels.
How long is rehab after ACL reconstruction?
ACL rehabilitation can vary in duration, but it often spans around 12+ months for a return to full activity. The exact timeline depends on the individual’s adherence to the ACL rehabilitation programme. It is widely accepted that returning to sport specific preinjury levels before 9 months increases the risk of further ACL injury by 50%.
What is the protocol after ACL reconstruction?
The protocol after ACL reconstruction involves structured phases of recovery, including post-surgery care, gradual rehabilitation, and a return to sports phase, tailored to the individual’s needs and progress.