IV: 6 weeks after surgery.
During this phase you will work on building your strength back while
allowing the ligament to heal into the bone tunnels in your femur and
tibia. Most physical therapists prescribe closed-chain kinetic exercises
during this phase. In this type of exercise, your foot is planted on the
floor and is not free to move about. Squats are an example of a closed-chain
kinetic exercise whereas quadriceps extension exercises on a weight training
machine are an open-chain exercise. Most surgeons will wait until at least
three months have passed before allowing their patients to return to agility
training exercises. When to return to competitive or recreational sports
after an ACL reconstruction is a difficult decision.
In these two pictures,
open-chain kinetic exercises are being performed. On the knee extension
and hamstring curl machines, the foot is not firmly planted on the
floor. A factor that may affect the way in which the knee moves
through its range of motion. These types of exercise may put more
strain on a reconstructed ACL and are often avoided during the rehabilitation
contrast, during the squat type of exercise, the foot is firmly planted
on the floor and does not move. This allows the body to control the
motion of the knee more precisely, a factor that may also decrease
the amount of strain placed on the new ACL graft.
find squatting exercises difficult, especially if they do not have
a physical therapist or a partner to train with. Fortunately, there
are several different strength training machines that will allow
you to perform these types of exercises. The squat deck permits
you to vary the amount of weight that you press with your legs.
It is a very good exercise machine for keeping your quadriceps strong
after surgery. It is important to note that in both of these quadriceps
exercises, the goal is not to put your knee through a full range
of motion. Instead, you should perform "short-arc" exercises
where you only bend your knees to the degree shown in these pictures.
The timing of your return to
normal athletic activities will depend upon how well you have done with
your rehabilitation, how solid your knee feels to you, and what you and
your surgeon decide is reasonable. Even after you return to your activities,
it is important that you pay special attention to keeping your quadriceps
and hamstrings in good shape, as this is considered an essential part
of protecting the ACL.
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