Tips for Athletes Returning from ACL Surgery
ACL surgery can be an overwhelming experience. Once you’ve gone through the surgery successfully, the next challenge is the recovery and healing process. This can be just as overwhelming for athletes. You want to heal quickly so you can get back to your work-outs and activities, but you also want to heal properly so you are less likely to re-injure your ACL. Fortunately, 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 quickly and safely.
Brace the Knee Properly
Knee support is essential for proper healing after ACL surgery, 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. Bracing your knee properly will limit your range of motion, but that will help prevent you from hyper-extending your knee or doing too much too soon after surgery.
Immediately after surgery, it is important to limit your knee’s range of motion. As you heal, you will be able to move 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.
Reduce the Swelling
Immediately after surgery, swelling is common. Your surgeon will probably instruct you to keep your leg elevated as much as possible, which will help reduce the swelling. Use pillow under your foot and knee to elevate your leg comfortably when you are sitting or lying in bed. You may also be advised to alternate warmth and ice on your knee.
Once you start to become more active on your leg, you may notice swelling again, particularly after you are active. 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. If you are concerned, you should reach out to your surgeon or physical therapist to see if you should be concerned.
Try Out Physical Therapy
After surgery, it is likely your surgeon will recommend physical therapy to help you with your healing and recovery. 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. Then, you will work with a physical therapist one-on-one using exercises, movements, and other therapies to help you achieve your health goals.
One of the advantages of working with a physical therapist is that you will make progress in your recovery, but you will have someone helping you so you are less likely to do too much or re-injure yourself. In addition, your physical therapist can help answer your questions about your knee and the recovery process so you are comfortable in getting back to the normal use of your knee.