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When Can I Exercise Normally After ACL Reconstruction?

When Can I Exercise Normally After ACL Reconstruction?

A major support ligament in your knee, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), is a common sports injury when the tissue stretches beyond its limits. The ACL can tear or stretch enough that it won’t fully recover without surgical intervention. 

When your knee becomes unstable due to such an injury, you may be a candidate for ACL reconstruction. In Jacksonville, choose the experts at Bahri Orthopedics & Sports Medicine for your surgery. Our team performs the procedure and guides your rehabilitation and recovery. 

Recognizing an ACL injury

Your knee is the largest joint in your body, and it’s subject to tremendous forces as you move. While the ACL usually performs its job without issue, certain movements and strains can overextend the ligament. Activities and sports that feature pivoting, sudden stops, fast direction changes, awkward jumps, or impact injuries are common sources of ACL injury. 

Mild injuries may leave the ACL intact, but partial or complete tears are common in moderate to advanced injuries. You may hear a loud popping sound at the time of the injury, accompanied by sharp pain. Swelling happens quickly, and you won’t be able to move your knee through its usual range of motion. Your knee may feel unstable if it can bear any weight at all. 

Because of the knee’s complexity and importance to mobility, potential ACL injuries require urgent care. This is not damage you can walk off or play through. In the case of severe ACL tears, you’ll likely require surgical reconstruction followed by a long recovery period. 

When can I exercise normally after ACL reconstruction?

While every patient has variations on injury and recovery, you’ll need to progress through rehabilitation steps before returning to normal, full-intensity exercise. While it’s normal to have swelling and soreness in your knee after surgery, we must encourage you to start walking with crutches the day after your reconstruction. 

You can put partial weight on your affected leg, as much as you can handle comfortably, letting the crutches bear the rest of the load. Use the crutches for as long as you need. This varies widely between patients, from a few days to weeks. Maintain as close to a normal gait as possible. 

After a few weeks, you can transition to a single crutch on the affected side to allow more normal walking while offering support as your knee regains stability. Strive to use a normal heel-to-toe step with normal knee motion as much as possible. 

Resting and elevating your leg is also crucial, particularly in the early stages of recovery. Minimize swelling with ice packs and compression bandages as directed.

Rehabilitation exercises require a commitment to sessions with a physical therapist and home care on your own. Falling below minimum levels of therapeutic exercise can delay your return to normal activity. 

Your recovery timeline depends on many factors. Expect to recover for six months before you return to full-intensity exercise or sports participation. 

Consulting with our specialists at Bahri Orthopedics & Sports Medicine is the best way to establish a realistic timeline for ACL reconstruction recovery. Book an appointment online or by phone to start the process today. 


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