As you can imagine, ACL surgery can be an overwhelming experience. The actual surgery is just the first part of the rehabilitation journey and the next challenge is the recovery and healing process. This can be just as overwhelming for athletes. It is important to recover quickly so you can get back to your practices and games, but you also want to heal properly so that the likelihood you will reinjure your ACL is low. Thankfully, we have some tips for athletes returning from ACL surgery. These three tips can help during your recovery so you can get back to being active sooner and safer.
Supporting your knee is extremely important in the ACL healing process, especially when you start using your knee for walking and other activities. Proper knee support will ensure that your knee is not strained during the recovery process, especially as you start moving, exercises, and getting back to your sport of choice. By bracing your knee effectively, this will limit your range of motion. This added support will help prevent hyperextension of your knee.
Following surgery, it is best practices to limit your knee’s range of motion in general. You will be able to move more as you continue to heal and use your knee more. However, even when you return to the field or court after ACL surgery, having a knee brace will help protect your knee as it finishes healing. Your surgeon and physical therapist will help ensure that you brace your knee properly after your ACL surgery. Following their instructions can help you recover from your surgery more quickly and reduce the risk of re-injury.
Swelling is quite common immediately following your surgery. Your soccer doctor will most likely instruct you to keep your leg elevated as much as possible to reduce the swelling. Using a pillow under your foot and knee to elevate your leg comfortably can be very effective as well. You may also be advised to alternate warmth and ice back and forth on the problem area that is causing you issues.
You may notice swelling again after you start back up your normal activities. Your knee has been resting and recovering, so it will need to get used to being used again. This is why it is important to start slowly when you get back to regular activities. Continue to follow your surgeon’s instructions to reduce the swelling of your knee. Make sure to reach out to your surgeon or physical therapist if you are concerned that your healing process is involving too much pain.
When you have finished the surgery, it is common for orthopedic surgeons to recommend physical therapy to help you with your healing and recovery process. Working with a physical therapist will give you a safe, structured environment for easing back into normal use of your knee. A physical therapist will assess your abilities and help you set realistic goals in a given time frame. After that, your physical therapist will provide one-on-one using exercises, movements, and other therapies to help you get back to your normal self before the ACL surgery.
If you have recently injured your ACL or have questions regarding how the recovery process looks, please reach out to our team today!