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Torn ACL and surgery

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  • Torn ACL and surgery

    Hey y’all,

    My name’s Jack and I tore my ACL playing football on Thursday August 9th, 2018. I’m 17 and a junior in high school in Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve been lifting seriously for about 2 years on starting strength principles and this is the first injury like this that I’ve had. I had my reconstructive surgery for the ACL this morning (Wednesday August 15th, 2018) and I will soon begin rehab to get my ROM and strength back. I’m not in a rush to get back super quick and my rehab with the PT is supposed to take up to 6 months. However, I’ve seen first hand how powerful and helpful a tool the barbell is and I want to use it to aid my rehab. My PT does not have a squat rack at his office but I have one in my garage along with kettlebells and other lighter weights. I doubt my therapist will use squats or progressive weight training in order to improve my condition not from lack of ability but rather not knowing it’s potential. I want to know if anybody here can give me a rough idea on what I can do and how to go about this to make a better and STRONGER recovery than what is expected.

    Thanks guys

  • #2
    Hey Jack, there are a lot of variables that go into ACL rehab and more importantly, the goals and timelines for return to sport. First, absolute credit for being proactive in your own care, but the first thing I would emphasize early on is the most important variable is time. ACL healing takes about 9 months for religamentization to happen and there are no magic bullets with which to speed up the process. The ultimate goal of rehab is to have you a better athlete when you step back onto the field than the day before you tore it. I would be up front with your therapist that this is your goal as well.

    A few questions before I go on, what type of graft did you have? Were any other procedures performed i.e. did they do a meniscal repair or meniscectomy? What is your current weight bearing status? Also, remember that ultimately you have a say in where you do rehab and if you do not feel the PT clinic you are in is up to standard then it is perfectly within your right as a patient to go somewhere that is.

    Right now your focus should be on regaining full extension, getting a good quadriceps contraction, and working on flexion, in that order (pending there are no restrictions on flexion from any other surgery).


    • #3
      Dr. Miles, thank you so much for the quick reply. I had a feeling it may not be that easy as it’s a ligament injury rather than any kind of muscle or other tissue. As far as the procedure, the doctors had a patellar tendon graft taken and there weren’t any other operations done. I’m still in a lot of pain, mostly from patellar tendon, but i should be able to walk on it within a week or so. I have full confidence in my pt that we’re on the same page as far as coming back stronger than before. Also, I get what you’re saying about there not being any magic bullets for speed of religamentation and my plan as of now is to take it slowly and get my full range of motion and weight bearing back. Once I get comfortable with that, then I’ll discuss with the pt about steadily building back up in strength training, doing high volume and low intensity squats and deadlifts to solidify my knee strength.
      Thanks again,


      • #4
        It sounds like you have an excellent plan in place then. Many times surgeries like this can end up being excellent opportunities to develop into a better overall athlete as it turns the focus from competing, to training for 9 months. The anterior knee pain is normal and will wax and wane as you progress through rehab. Good luck man, I look forward to hearing about all of the PRs a few months from now.