ACL Sprain Rehabilitation

Here we outline our ACL sprain rehabilitation program for mild to moderate Anterior Cruciate Ligament injuries and ACL deficient knees. It is based on what an elite athlete would do and adapted for all levels.

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Is the program suitable for me?

The program designed for anyone who has a mild to moderate (grade 1 or 2) anterior cruciate ligament sprain.

It is not suitable for post-surgical recovery as this will depend on the type of operation you have had. We recommend you follow your surgeon’s advice, however, the later phases should be very similar.


Program structure

The ACL rehabilitation program consists of 4 phases.

Phase 1

Phase 1 begins as soon as possible after injury and can last up to 2 or 3 weeks depending on your grade of injury. The aim here is to stop bleeding within the joint and control swelling.

By the end of phase 1, you should be able to walk normally without a knee brace and without your knee feeling unstable. You should also be able to fully extend (straighten) your knee and there should be minimal swelling.


Phase 2

The aim of phase 2 is to eliminate any swelling, regain full range of motion in both knees, and have the confidence to step up and down without pain.


Phase 3

The aim of phase 3 is to progress to a point where you can run at 75% of maximum speed and begin to perform simple agility drills.


Phase 4

The emphasis in phase 4 is on bridging the gap between rehabilitation exercises and full fitness. Don’t skip this phase because you are almost there. It is important, especially if you want to avoid setbacks later.

This is where the knee is able to withstand and cope with unpredictable, high load, and high-speed movements and activities.


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Exercises

Exercises begin almost immediately following injury and get progressively more difficult. The program includes over 70 different exercises:

Mobility & stretching

These exercises are aimed at maintaining normal joint range of movement in the ankles, hips and knees, as well as the calf muscles themselves.


Activation exercises

These are designed to keep the muscles firing and toned. In particular the hip and gluteal muscles, important for later in the Calf strain rehabilitation program.


Strengthening exercises

This is where the main calf muscle strengthening is done. Strengthening exercises become progressively more difficult and sports-related as you progress.


Movement control

These exercises focus on co-ordination and proprioception. They include balance exercises that become progressively more difficult throughout the phases.


Functional exercises

Functional exercises are sports or activity related and begin with simple walking/running technique drills and progress through to more advanced agility and speed exercises.


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This article has been written with reference to the bibliography.
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