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ACL Rehabilitation

Whether choosing a surgical or nonsurgical approach to ACL treatment, physical therapy is vital to healing after an ACL injury.

Your UPMC Sports Medicine knee surgeon and physical therapist will design a complete rehab program based on your:

  • ACL injury and type of treatment.
  • Desired level of activity.
  • Fitness level.
  • Sports background.

When it comes to ACL rehab, there are three main treatment goals your surgeon and physical therapist will work towards:

  • Stabilizing the knee if it's unsteady, to help you return to your daily routine.
  • Strengthening the muscles that support your knee, to help you get to the same level of activity as before your injury.
  • Reducing the risk that you will reinjure your knee when you return to sports.

Over the coming months, you'll work on strength, flexibility, and sport-specific exercises.

UPMC Sports Medicine’s science-based approach to rehab from ACL injury has five phases. The length of each phase will depend on your treatment goals.

You'll need to complete all five phases before your knee surgeon and physical therapist clear you to return to normal activity.

ACL Rehab Exercises

When rehabbing from ACL surgery, your physical therapist will include drills at each phase of recovery that will help:

  • Strengthen your injured leg.
  • Achieve full range of motion in your knee.
  • Increase flexibility, coordination, and agility.

During rehab from ACL reconstruction, you'll learn:

  • Quad sets
  • Straight-leg raises
  • Heel slides
  • Squats and lunges
  • Deadlifts and bridges
  • Planks and side-planks
  • Ladder drills
  • Box jumps
  • Agility grids

Exercise tips after ACL surgery

  • Start slow. Gradually increase intensity and duration.
  • Do not push yourself to the point that you feel pain.
  • Talk to your knee surgeon and physical therapist on how to best progress through each phase of ACL rehab.

Learn More About ACL Injuries and Rehab

Contact the UPMC Sports Medicine ACL Program today to learn more or make an appointment.