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Updated on March 18, 2020

Physiotherapy Exercises After ACL Knee Surgery

Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) knee surgery is only a part of your treatment towards a successful recovery for your knee.  You need to do your part and participate in a physiotherapy program to regain your knee function.  It is ideal that you are able to;

  • Visit a Physiotherapy or Rehab Centre to have guided therapy using sophisticated machines at least 2-5 times a week for around 2-6 months
  • Perform regular simple exercises at home by yourself

Prevention of recurrent injury

Around 5-15% get a recurrent injury.  As such, learn to prevent injury by strengthening your core, hip and leg muscles.   Here are some exercises which you can try to perform at home.  Stop if you experience sharp pains during the exercise.

Do ask your doctor or therapist which exercises are suitable for your condition and the frequency or schedule required.

Click to watch Loyola Medicine video on ACL Reconstruction home exercise program

Phase 1.  Exercises done with you lying down on your bed

Quad Set Exercises

Tighten the quad muscles on top of your knee by pushing the knee down to the surface of the bed. Try to get the knee as straight as possible and hold for 5 seconds.  Repeat 20 times and do this set of exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist.

Hamstring Set Exercises

Keep your operated knee slightly bent, tighten the muscles at the back of your thigh and dig your heel into the bed surface.  Hold for 5 seconds.  Repeat 20 times and do this set of exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist.

Heel Slide Exercises

While lying down, slide your heel back and forth on the surface of the bed.  Repeat 20 times and do this set of exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist.

Phase 2.  Exercises done with you standing up

Partial Knee Bend Exercise

This exercise is done with you standing up with you back against the wall.  Slowly slide your back down the wall and then slide back up.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist.

Partial Single Knee Bend Exercise

This exercise is done with you standing up with you back against the wall. This is similar to the exercise above except that your operated leg will be taking most of your body weight during the exercise.  Slowly slide your back down the wall and then slide back up.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Single Leg Balance Exercise

This exercise is done with you standing next to the wall to help support yourself.  You should try to lift the good leg off the flow and support your body weight with your operated leg with the knee slightly bent and muscles tight.  Hold for 1 minute and repeat 3 times.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Heel Raise Exercise

This exercise is done with you standing next to the wall to help support yourself.   Rise up onto the balls of your feet and slowly back down.  When you feel more confident and stronger, you can perform the same exercise only on the operated leg.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Phase 3. Weeks 8-16 post-operation

Step Up Exercises

This exercise is done by placing your operated foot on the step in front of you and then lift your good foot onto the same step.  Use the arm rail to support yourself.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Step Down Exercises

This exercise is done by placing your operated foot on the step behind you and then lower your good foot onto the step below.  Use the arm rail to support yourself.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Single Leg Balance Exercises

Stand and place your weight on the operated leg.  Use your good leg and move to place your good foot at 5 different points around you, while maintaining your balance.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Phase 4. Weeks 16-22 post-operation

Forward and Side-to-Side Jump Exercises

Jump with feet together forwards and backwards.  Repeat the jumps side-to-side as well.  Focus on soft landings and try not to let your knee turn inwards.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Squat Jump Exercises

Jump as high as you can and land softly on the same position. Try not to let your knee turn inwards.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Lunge Exercises

Step forward with the operated leg and keep the knee in line with your toes.  Try not to let your knee turn inwards.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Forward Jump Exercises

Jump with both feet together forwards as far as you can.  Focus on soft landings and try not to let your knee turn inwards.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Single Leg Hop Exercises

Stand on the operated leg. Hop forwards as far as you can and keep the knee in line with your toes.  Focus on soft landings and try not to let your knee turn inwards.  Repeat 10 times.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Diagonal Jump Exercises (both legs)

Jump with both feet together diagonallyon either side and back to your starting point.  Focus on soft landings and try not to let your knee turn inwards.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Diagonal Jump Exercises (single leg)

Jump with your operated leg diagonallyon either side and back to your starting point.  Focus on soft landings and try not to let your knee turn inwards.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

Quick Feet Exercises

Walk briskly tiptoed in a straight line as shown on the video.  Focus on soft landings and try not to let your knee turn inwards.  Repeat 10 times for 2 sets.  Do this exercise 2-4 times a day or as directed by your doctor or physiotherapist

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Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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