The 2 Best Post Op ACL Rehab Exercises
After ACL surgery you might think that you will be laying around recovering, which is partially true. Fresh out of surgery, your increased swelling is going to cause weakness and atrophy at your muscles, especially in the quads and hamstrings. The problem is the longer you wait to begin strengthening those muscles, the harder it is going to be to activate them again. As long as the exercises don’t cause you any extra pain, it is important to contract and fire the hamstrings and the quads in order to rewire your brain to those muscles and responses.
As mentioned in my post #1 Most Ineffective ACL Rehab Exercise, the straight leg raise is usually a go to exercise for many patients in order to strengthen their quads after ACL surgery but it has no therapeutic value and can be painful. Instead, the 2 Best Post Op ACL Rehab Exercises are hamstring co-contractions, and quad set pluses.
It is much safer, less painful, and more beneficial to begin working the hamstrings BEFORE the quads immediately following ACL surgery. Isometric hamstring activations decompress the knee and can help with pain relief. The hamstrings capability of firing quicker and faster is essential for athletes, especially female athletes who are quad dominant meaning the quads fire before the hamstrings causing an increased risk of ACL tear.