Low Impact Exercises Perfect for ACL Rehabilitation
Injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are extremely painful, and are unfortunately all too common. Health Research Funding reports that some 150,000–200,000 ACL injuries are reported every year. Worse, an injured ACL, which is usually either partially or completely torn, diminishes one’s stability and mobility, making even everyday tasks like walking a chore.
Anyone can suffer an ACL injury as freak accidents are invariably part of life, and even a bad pivot or slip can cause that dreaded “pop.” However, athletes are certainly more at risk as injuries are a hazard of playing sports. Simply, the physical demands of sports — constant movement, quick changes of directions, and frequent jumping and cutting, to name a few — make injuries, ACL sprains and tears included, a constant danger.
In case you injure your ACL, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that you will get better in time after a period of rehabilitation. Very Well Health explains that this process can take anywhere from 7 to 9 months depending on the severity of the injury. ACL reconstruction is generally overseen by medical professionals, like physical therapists or an orthopedic doctor. That doesn’t mean, though, that you cannot exercise on your own. In fact, you will be advised to perform certain exercises that will accelerate your recovery.
The following low impact exercises would be perfect:
This exercise strengthens the muscles surrounding your knees and helps your injured knee regain its range of motion. The best part is you don’t get to put weight on your leg at all. Here’s how you can do it:
1. Sit down in a chair.
2. Use your leg muscles to raise your foot so it goes parallel to your thigh. You will feel your quad tightening and your hamstring getting a stretch.
3. Hold for 10–15 seconds. Then relax for up to 10 seconds.
4. Repeat 8 to 12 times for both knees.
Oblique Hip Combo
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvaq04RxajU
Weak muscles around the hips lead to knee problems, so it is thus important that you also strengthen the muscles around your hip joints as they work together with your leg muscles to ensure healthy knees. To this end, you can do a variation of Sandbox Fitness’ oblique hip combo without the surfboard.
1. Find a nearby wall. Get down on your right knee, padding the knee to avoid pain.
2. Place your right hand on the wall for balance and raise your left overhead.
3. Straighten the other leg to the side. Then bend the knee towards the obliques, aiming to touch the elbow for a side crunch. Repeat a few times then switch sides.
By the third or fourth week of your rehab, you can start riding the stationary bike to further strengthen the muscles surrounding your knees, and to increase the injured knee’s range of motion without putting much weight on it. As an added bonus, you will get a cardiovascular workout, too.
Walking in a Pool
Being in the pool means you become nearly weightless, and this means you can practice walking without actually putting any strain on your recovering ACL. Eventually, you can progress to jogging, and ultimately, to running.
Some athletes repeatedly injure the same areas — it’s an occupational hazard. Goal.com reports that Brazilian striker Ronaldo, also known as O Fenomeno, suffered several career-threatening injuries to his knee. Knee injuries are the most common among athletes, especially in a high-impact sport such as soccer. During the course of his professional career, he would go on to rupture a tendon, take time to rehabilitate, and eventually come back stronger than ever. Coral notes that Ronaldo lost his title as the World Cup’s highest ever goalscorer to ex-Germany international Miroslav Klose. However, it’s important to note that Ronaldo’s 15 goals were played in just 19 games, compared to Klose’s 16 goals in 24 games. He finally retired after a decorated 19-year career and numerous injuries to show for his time in the sport.
Professional sports can do some serious damage to your body, and the ACL is an all-too common injury among athletes and even those who are physically active for leisure. Recovering from an ACL injury is not easy, but it is not impossible either. It will, however, take lots of time, patience, and hard work. If you follow your rehabilitation program and do everything you are told to do, you will surely be back to your pre-injury form in due time.
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