How to help a blown ACL
Have you had the bad luck of blowing your ACL? I am so sorry to hear that! It can make a knee feel really super vulnerable.
Here is my client Debbie in her knee brace after an unfortunate day skiing. If you didn’t know, whenever an injury happens to a joint, the body’s immediate response is to freeze the area so further injury does not occur. By freeze I mean lock down the joint, in this case the knee, with really really tight muscles. Complicating the matter further is the fact that you want to put weight on it, but it hurts, so you don’t and/or can’t. So you limp, and walk weird, and things don’t seem to be going so well.
In this case, Debbie scheduled her reconstruction surgery right away, but couldn’t get into the surgeon for a full six weeks after the injury. Bodies can develop amazing compensatory mechanisms in six days, let alone six weeks! Her doctor wanted her getting into “prehab” shape ASAP, so she worked with both a physical therapist as well as me to whip her knee into pre-surgery shape. Current research and practical experience shows that rehab goes lots better if you are in a good “prehab” place before getting sliced and diced.
What is one of my all-time favorite exercises to accomplish exactly that?
Here we are, sitting on the floor glued up against the wall. Pull those toes back, tighten that quad, and try lifting the leg up off the floor 10x. Note how high or easily the leg lifts.
I will guess it won’t lift terribly high or easily.
Now lift the leg up onto the roller under the ankle area, pull the toes back, tighten the quad, and rotate the ENTIRE leg from the hip socket keeping the leg perfectly straight. Do each leg 3×1:30, alternating sides. Also try your best not to tighten up your shoulders by bracing on the ground like Debbie is.
You will feel stretch along the backside of the leg, behind the knee, and hopefully in the hamstring area.
Once you have completed the rotations on the roller, try the leg lifts agian.
Does it go better? Can you lift higher, as if by magic?
Let me know in the comments below! Good luck prehabbing and rehabbing those ACLs out there. Do as much work as you can beforehand and it will pay off in spades later.