ACL injuries can be all too common in sportsmen and women. It is actually an injury that can strike anyone regardless of whether they play a sport or not. However, those who participate in games that have a higher impact on the legs are more at risk. If you have damaged your ACL, you will know the pain involved and understand the frustration of waiting to be fit again. There are a few ways you can help with your own recovery, and the important thing is not to push it as this will cause more damage in the long run and potentially mean that you do not recover fully.
If you have been advised by your medical professional that you will need surgery resist the temptation to just and wait for your operation. Instead if your doctor agrees work on a pattern of strengthening and stretching the surrounding areas to ensure that they are strong as your ACL will need maximum support immediately after the surgery has been done. By creating strength and stretching your quadriceps, hamstring, calf and groin you can speed up your recovery. Sitting around just causes the body to seise up so try and keep moving to avoid stiffness. Ask your doctor to show you exercises that stretch the surrounding area without causes any more damage. Consult an osteopath if you are stuck for advice. If you do not need surgery, these are still perfect exercises to do at this stage of recovery.
Once you have had your surgery you need to do similar again so, once more advise from your physio or primary care provider is vital. Now you will need to start using the knee itself but need to be careful not to do too much too fast. Gentle, low impact stretching and strengthening are what is required. It may be tempting to go all out, but this will just lead to damage and cause the knee not to heal correctly so take it slow and steady.
No one should suffer from pain, so don’t be a hero as the saying goes. Taking the pain medicine enables the body to relax and heal, whereas fighting on in pain means you are stressing your system and healing will be slower. You may be advised to try cold therapy – which is not always pleasant but does help. Cold has been shown to take fluid from the joint faster and causes blood to gather in the area which promotes healing. For some ACL injuries, you may also be given a brace to provide compression to the area, this is usually done in tandem with the cold therapy and is proven to be very useful. The bottom line is to remember you have a temporary weakness in the knee and should be careful to work with, not against this limitation. Missing training or games can be frustrating, but if you follow the guidance and create a healing arena, you will be back on your feet a lot faster than if you rush things and do further damage.
This post is our opinion only, we are not medical professionals. Always seek the advice from your doctor and physiotherapist regarding any recommendations or advice you have read regarding injury, before you consider it.