Recovering from ACL surgery isn’t easy, but it’s not rocket science either. So if you follow this advice, you be able to exercise soon enough.
Injuries are common among athletes, particularly injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This is the muscle located on the back of your knee that stabilizes your knee joint and enables you to move laterally.
Injuries to this region most commonly occur during sports when the athlete suddenly stops and changes direction. Basketball, volleyball, tennis, soccer, and football players are the most likely to obtain this injury.
As a result, the ACL repair procedure is very common, and the results are typically good.
One study in the Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that 81 percent of people who have ACL surgery can return to playing sports and regular fitness.
However, everyone is different, and only 55 percent typically achieve the same personal fitness level they had before the injury.
Although some of the problems arise from issues like surgical error or complications, most occur because many patients do not properly follow their recovery procedures, from immobilizing the injury to doing physical therapy.
If you want to achieve a full recovery and get back to playing sports at 100 percent, it’s essential that you follow the correct steps for a quick recovery.
ACL Surgery Recovery Tips
Along with following the advice of your doctor, here are a few things you can do to heal quickly and safely after ACL surgery:
1. Follow Post-Op Instructions To The Letter
You probably want to hear that you’ll fully recover from ACL surgery within a few weeks; however, most patients take six to nine months.
Within the first two to four weeks, you’ll be on crutches with strict instructions not to put weight on that leg. Soon you’ll be able to ditch the crutches and wear a brace for about six weeks, attending physical therapy to regain strength in your leg.
This process can be extremely frustrating for athletes who are used to being active daily, but it’s imperative that you follow the doctor’s instructions perfectly.
You do not want to delay recovery because you put weight on your leg prematurely. This could set your recovery back several weeks or make it impossible to return to full capacity.
2. Do Your Physical Therapy Exercises
For several months, you’ll be in physical therapy, regaining strength and flexibility in your joints and muscles. This is the most imperative part of your recovery and the area where most people go wrong, diminishing their physical ability thereafter.
Along with attending every physical therapy session, do your exercises religiously. Make notes of exercises that are too hard or too easy so that your physical therapist can adjust your sessions as necessary.
If you’re struggling to remember to do your exercises, use an app to help you track and perform movements. You can even make notes to bring up with your PT at your next session.
Working in tandem with your PT will help you achieve full physical recovery much faster than anything else you could do.
3. Take Care Of Your Health
A healthy body will heal much faster. Eating well after ACL surgery will give your muscles and immune system the strength it needs to heal properly and quickly.
This means eating plenty of lean protein, dairy, citrus, and vegetables. Try to limit your caffeine, alcohol, and soda intake as well.
You’ll also want to get a proper amount of sleep, as this is the time when your body can do the most healing. You need at least eight hours of quality, uninterrupted sleep each night so that your body can repair tissues and promote healing.
If you’re struggling to sleep, try a few sleep hygiene tricks or talk to your doctor about safe sleep aids.
You’ll probably be on some pretty strong pain medications during this time, so do not take over-the-counter sleeping pills without asking a doctor.
You don’t want a negative reaction to this medication, delaying your recovery further.
4. Avoid Unsanctioned Exercises
For the first couple of weeks, you should not perform any physical activity, as your body needs rest and your leg can’t bear weight for some time.
You might think it’s okay to do exercises that don’t affect your leg, such as upper-body weight lifting. But it’s best to avoid any physical activity until the doctor says it’s okay.
Not only can this affect your leg without you realizing it, but it can also delay healing by diverting healing resources to the area you worked out.
At some point, your physical therapist will sanction a few low-impact exercises such as walking.
It’s important to do these exercises as they can improve the effectiveness of your physical therapy while helping you stay sane while you can’t work out.
Only exercise under the direction of your physical therapist. This individual has years of training and experience on hand. They have your best interest in mind, and they’ll help you recover quickly and safely if you simply follow instructions.
As you can see, life after ACL surgery isn’t the best, especially for an athlete used to exercise daily. But, in time, you’ll get back to your top form if you follow doctor’s advice.