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ACL Series: What to Know About Post-Surgery Rehab.

Updated: Mar 3, 2021

After some thought, you decided to have the surgery. You might be surprised as to how early you’ll be told to start rehab, especially when it’ll be hard to even move the leg.

What would make them think starting rehab early was a good idea?

It turns out rehab started much later in the past and that was fine with most people until they realized how much faster you could get back to your regular life if you started sooner. The only thing they had to make sure of was that there were no downsides. The downsides turned out to be small when you compared them to the benefits. It also helped that they were no longer making a huge cut but small holes (arthroscopy) for the surgery.

The one thing I do warn all of my clients, you’ll get bored after the surgery. You’ll be restricted on how easily you can move and you’ll be in pain so there’s little to do (except rehab). So this is a perfect time to start a new hobby that doesn’t need a lot of movement. Even though you might have the time to catch up on movies and shows, there is always a viewing limit that tends to creep up on people during recovery.

The general idea of rehab is easy. Get your leg back to being able to do what it did before. To do this you’ll need to be able to fully extend and bend your knee, and you’ll need your strength back. Getting into the finer details of what needs to be done and when is where it takes longer to explain in a blog.

A hurdle that everyone needs to get past is building confidence in your leg again. After all, you not only have the realization that your operated-on leg is half the size of your other leg, but that you essentially have to learn to do everything that came “naturally” to you. Confidence can sometimes be the thing that stops you from moving toward more complicated exercises.

You’ll understand what I mean when you’ll be faced with having to take the stairs to a lower level.

Do you go down facing the stairs? Or sideways?

Do you risk putting your operated leg down first?

Regaining your confidence in your leg will come as you regain strength and ability in your leg. It does take time.

Since everyone is different it is hard to give a specific return to sport time but the general time frame is 4 to 6 months. There are people that have been able to return a little sooner but trying to get back before your leg is ready puts you at risk for injury. We also don’t want to take too long since having a weaker leg means that your “good” leg needs to compensate for it.

In part 3, I’ll cover what could go wrong.


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