Sometimes, we take for granted the simple movements our body does on a daily basis like the bending and straightening of our legs. The hinge joint in our knee that allows for this motion is quite a complex body part, with ligaments and bones keeping it in place. This joint supports the human body when it stands, walks, and runs. One of the four major knee ligaments, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), helps the legs with movement and stability. It also connects the thigh bone to the shin bone and helps the knee keep from hyperextending. Klay Thompson, Adrian Peterson, and Tom Brady are all professional athletes who have made successful recoveries after ACL injuries.
Athletes of all abilities and sports can be at risk for an ACL injury, and torn ACLs can be quite disruptive for an athletic career. However, healing is possible with the right rehabilitation routine. Read on to learn more about how to improve your ACL rehab.
Start with the basics. One of the first things to do as you rehab your ACL is focus on the reduction of pain and swelling. Some ways to bring down inflammation and reduce pain include: icing, using compression, and practicing elevation.
Work with a professional. For an injury as serious as an ACL tear, working with a trusted medical professional is crucial. See a doctor for an official diagnosis of your injury, but don’t stop there. In order to get started with a solid healing routine, seeing a physical therapist can be so beneficial for athletes who have suffered a torn ACL, especially prior to surgery, also known as “prehab”.
Stay in motion. Working with a sports physical therapist can be key to healing. Implementing manual therapy techniques such as massage, scraping, or cupping can help to bring down pain and to improve range of motion during the healing process. A physical therapist may also incorporate a regimen of exercises to help athletes with regaining the full range of motion of their knee. Improving flexibility is important as well. At ROI, experts focus on the movement system of the body—diagnosing movement dysfunction and prescribing just the right treatment for athletes who are recovering from injury.
Build strength. When working through ACL rehabilitation, it is essential to focus on building up the muscles around the knee and minimizing overall muscle loss. Muscle imbalances—like having quadriceps that are stronger than the hamstrings—can increase further ACL injury risk by putting excess pressure on the ACL. In order to avoid repeat injuries, building and balancing knee and leg strength is so important. Building core and hip strength is key to supporting your knees too. At ROI, strength and conditioning coaches can help with this.
Put the pieces back together. The process of the soft tissue healing of the ACL needs support like physical therapy as new tissue repairs, grows, and heals. Team ROI works to help accelerate the healing of damaged tissue, reducing the risks of re-injury, chronic pain, and dysfunction of the knee.
Rest and recovery. While working hard in the gym and doing a physical therapy routine is a big part of healing the ACL, it is also important that recovering athletes listen to their body. Pain and pushing too hard can mean re-injury of the ACL. Instead, stay consistent and positive as you remember to rest and recover through the healing process.
You are what you eat (and drink). Focus on nutrition while you are healing from your ACL injury. A healthy diet can provide your body with good nutrients, and staying hydrated can help with recovery as well.
Get back in the game. Returning to sport can feel like a lofty goal for an athlete recovering from an ACL injury. A physical therapist can work to create a progressive return-to-sport program specifically designed for an athlete.
Patience, persistence. It can take time and hard work to fully recover from an ACL injury. Keeping consistent with a gradual, tailored physical rehab program will be a major part of the puzzle for healing.
Work with the best. At ROI, our one-on-one rehabilitation services help athletes to return to their sports safely. ROI’s staff includes doctors of physical therapy who specialize in sports and orthopedic injuries. In addition to experienced physical therapists, ROI also works with a team that includes exercise physiologists, strength and conditioning coaches, and registered dietitians that focus on holistic healing for athletes. ROI’s ACL rehab therapy incorporates the latest technology and modern recovery spaces to make for the best healing experience for athletes.
ROI’s physical therapy team has worked with athletes from high school to college to professional levels, and everything in between. Our goal is to promote faster, more effective healing and to track progress along the way.
Are you looking to improve your ACL rehab? Trust ROI’s science-based, hands-on healing with your road to recovery. Reach out to ROI to get started with a successful healing journey. Call us at 512-962-9141 to learn more.