Post Rehab ACL Exercise
Your first priority after ACL surgery is regaining range of motion. While static stretching is definitely required, dynamic flexibility exercises are more functional. If you are athletic, the will help you make a faster return to your sport.
When you go to physical therapy, your PT will probably have you on your stomach while he or she manually flexes your knee. This can be very painful, unless you are doing range-of motion exercises on your own. There are flex bands that can be purchases that will help you perform this exercise manually. Additionally, there are some other devices you can use to warm up before you attempt this stretch.
Stationary Bicycle: The stationary bike is an excellent way to gain dynamic flexibility. As you begin to gain range of motion, lower the bike seat. This will help you increase leg flexion.
Recumbent Bicycle: The recumbent bikes are great for engaging the hamstrings while increasing knee flexion.
Elliptical Machine: You can usually start working on the elliptical machine a few weeks after surgery. As you start to heal, raise the incline. The elliptical will also help strengthen the gluteals, which are important for injury prevention.
These three machines will also help re-activate your aerobic system, which may be sluggish for a few weeks after surgery. Until you are completely healed, most doctors will recommend using them without resistance.
Foam Rollers: Your quadriceps may be feeling very tight for a few weeks post op. This may be the reason that manual leg flexion is extremely painful. Styrofoam rollers are gaining popularity as a means of releasing tension from your quadriceps. Lie prone and place the roller at the top of your quads. Gradually roll down the roller. If you find a spot that is very tight, hold the position and breathe deeply, until 75% of the pain is relieved.
Stability Balls: Stability balls can create a rhythmic, natural movement that can help you with flexion and extension. Simply lie on your back with your feet on the ball, while straightening and bending your knees.
Bands: Flexing and extending against the resistance of a stretch band can also help rehab the muscle.
Balance Training: After your injury, your balance and proprioception may be impaired. Standing on the Bosu, Dyna Disc or Wobble Board can help re-train balance.
Pool Exercise: The pool is a great place to practice non-impact post rehab exercise.
Be sure to check with your physician prior to embarking on your own post-rehab program.
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