ACL Surgery Update – 8 Weeks

It has been eight weeks since my Anterior Cruciate Ligament was reconstructed after a football injury, and I am now managing almost a full normal bend of the knee, running, lifting weights and swimming.

It has been pretty tough keeping up the motivation and going to the gym six times a week… but it starting to pay off. I saw my physio this morning, who has said everything is fine and I am making good progress, so now I will be pushing it harder and moving on to longer running and more weights.

I was fortunate to get private treatment for all this, so the physio setup is top quality. Next time I am in, I will test the leg strength to identify any weaknesses. It is also said that the Bolton first team players use the place (Euxton Hall in Chorley), but I am yet to bump into any!

The one difficulty I have had is with my hamstring, part of which was used to reconstruct the ligament. This left it weak, and I have tweaked it a couple of times since, so I am a bit behind on strengthening those muscles.

It feels like I have been working at this forever, but eight weeks is not a long time. I have only been at the gym for four weeks, even though it is now like a second home.

I aim to be in football training by June, which will be about five months after the op and with a target of July/August for a competitive game.

I have learned a lot from this injury, but most importantly, I have realised how much I had taken fitness for granted. Before the injury, I had spells at going to the gym but never really had a proper plan or goal, meaning I didn’t keep it up properly or didn’t get the full benefit.

So with that in mind, maybe this is the wake-up call I needed which means I can keep active for longer and enjoy it more.

Roll on, June!

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32 Responses

  1. hey thr, iv just had a acl reconstruction 7weeks ago wit the hamstring graft, i got my injury playing football aswel. im doin my physio at preston nhs. just wanted 2no how ur rehab went and if uv started playing football again? thanx.
    Sid

  2. Hi Sid,
    My rehab went quite well but had a couple of setbacks with a pulled hamstring. Make sure you really build up the hamstrings with weights etc. to stop that happening to you.
    Balance/Properception is also really important – i bought myself a wobble board that i use every day, which really helped me get the balance back.
    I was back playing football after 5 or 6 months but had the hamstring problems so it was a bit stop/start. It has been 12 months now and I am playing regularly again.
    If you need any specific advice just let me know.

  3. Hey Carey,
    Thanks for the reply, im glad uv returned to playing football again. I really cant wait to start playing fooball, just hoping everthing goes well. Iv been exercising my leg everyday so should be fine.
    I think 5-6 months might be a bit erly for me to start playing but you never no.
    Anyway thaks again for the reply, i really appreciate it.
    Sid

  4. Had my op in June 08 and and started playing competitive football about 1 month ago, so around 9 months post op. Working my way back slowly by not playing a full 90 minutes yet and aiming for full fitness in the coming summer pre-season.
    Noticed that the operated leg is still not as defined muscle wise as the other leg. I have put in several really strong tackles with no issue but still get pain when I kneel on the knee ( I had the patella graft and believe this pain is to be expected for about 12 months).
    Really happy so far but of course still wary at the moment.

  5. Hi Adskii – great to hear you have got back to playing already.
    I had the hamstring graft so I don’t really know about pain when kneeling on it – I am sure it will go with time.
    In terms of muscle mass it is quite important to build up the muscles well and also in proportion. By this I mean your hamstrings, quads, calves etc. should all be worked on evenly.
    The best exercises i find are:
    * Single leg squats – basically stepping forward with one leg and bending the knee, then back up with weights
    * Isolated machines – hamstring curl, leg press, leg extension
    * Swiss ball hamstring curls – i had trouble with hamstrings so this was useful
    * Balancing work – keeping your balance on a rolled up towel, wobble board and/or vibration machine really helps
    Let me know how you get on!

  6. Hey again! Its been about 5months since my op now. Everythings going well at the mo, leg feels good whilst jogging on the treadmill and exercises using weights.
    Just wanted to no if ur knee ever locked up once in a while? and if u ever used the leg curl machine as some people say not to do them as it is an open chain exercise?

  7. Hey Sid, great to hear it is going well! Won’t be long now till you can start playing football.
    I never had my knee lock up at all – definately talk to your physio about it but will probably just be to do with building up your muscles.
    The leg curl was something I used a lot. You can’t do that kind of thing straight away while the ligament is still healing (only light weights). I was always told the ligament should be just as strong as before so nothing is out of bounds.
    If you are unsure about anything see your physio (or pay to see one – well worth it). Hope it all goes well pal!

  8. hi i had a op in sep just wandered if any1 experianced clickin in your knee i still get it after 9 months and happens everytime i bend my leg but when i warm up it goes away does any1 else get that problem email me back warrenryan_18@hotmail.co.uk thanks ps my hamstring is still weak even tho i go gym 4 times a week and go on the leg curl is there any other methods for strenthenin your hamstring

  9. Hi Warren
    I had some slight clicking in my knee but it went after 3 or 4 months. It might be nothing to worry about but I would definately talk to your physio about it, especially if you get pain.
    For your hamstring make sure you are doing the hamstring curl one leg at a time. Also check your technique – you need to do it slowly (both up and down), point your toes forwards (this isolates your hamstring) and keep increasing the weight.
    One exercise that helped me was using my other leg for resistance. Lie on your front and cross your legs at your ankle. Bend the lower leg up and push against with your other leg to create resistance. This is good because you can adjust the resistance and detect at which point your hamstring is weak.
    And of course stretching is essential. Try massaging the muscle yourself as well.
    Hope that helps!

  10. hello buddy i have just got my acl hamstring reconstructed last week can any one say when i will be able to walk

  11. Hi Mitul, you should be able to walk with crutches straight away. After that it depends on your physio and Doctor. The ones I saw had me walking within a week or two I think. They said bending and using the knee early was important, but I know other physios/doctors have different opinions.
    Ask your physio on this one and I recommend pushing to get you walking/bending ASAP!

  12. i am feeling more stiffness in my thigh and some time it feels some mucle is going to get on another mucle . what do u say about that sir.and more thing can i do cycling at home so that it recovers more quickely. sir i dont know what to say this is an strange feealing my leg is like muchine been jam withouut oil .i have achived 120 deg of bend what do u think when i will be compleatly ok

  13. Hi Mitul. It takes soe time to recover so if you have only had the operation one week ago be patient. Every day you should be trying to bend your knee a bit more, under the supervision of your physio.
    Your legs and muscles will be stiff – remember to stretch, massage them yourself and don’t lift weights that are too heavy.
    You should notice improvements every week but it will be maybe 6 months or more before you can do football or other sports.
    Keep working hard and you will get there!

  14. hey dude i have got another prob my steaches are ozzing some fluied and blood and i am gatting feaver whats the prob can any one help

  15. Mitul it sounds like a minor infection. Go to see your doctor! It needs looking at. I had some oozing from the stitches but not a fever.

  16. thanks a lot buddy for your assitance no i am able to walk but not that straight walk my infectioan has gone and i am wanking without clutches . should i walk or still i need rest ……

  17. No problem Mitul. You should really go off what your physio says but I would personally try walking as quickly as possible, but stop if you get bad pain.
    Bending is also very important – bend as far as you can (in both directions) twice a day, but again stop if you get pain.

  18. hey thanks carey for your advice now i am walkin clearly and i am feeling great after 3 weeks thanks for your great great advice to me ..

  19. hi
    IM joe ive been skating for about 8 years and ive been out for 1 im having my oper. in 2 weeks does any one now if i can skate after the oper. again ive never incountered such pain or injury before if some one has any advise plz tell me i really apr.
    thanks alot

  20. Hi,
    i just has ACL reconstruction using the Hamstring graft, and its 5 weeks post-op. Everything seems to be going very well. I have full range of movement, cycling 3 times a week, using the weights for my legs and running a small bit. The physio is really happy with my progress and i see my consultant for my 6 week review next week. This injury happened playing football and have really missed it. I want to get playing after 6 months but is this a realistic target??
    Any feedback would be appreciated.
    Thanks

  21. Hey @strainer
    Yes 6 months is a realistic target, but I don’t think any sooner. So you have to work hard and everything has to go your way to make it back on 6 months.
    Make sure your hamstrings and quads are especially strong – they will support your knee. Be very careful around the 3 or 4 month mark because your ligament will be weakest then (the consultant will explain this no doubt).
    Watch out for that hamstring going – stretch it, work it with weights and don’t sprint cold.
    Good luck and tell us how you get on!

  22. Thanks Carey,
    yes the physio said the main objective now is to re-build my quad and hamsting as it has reduced dramatically compared to my good leg. I am currently turning up the resistance on the bike, using the weights for my quads and the elastic band for my hamstrings, but is there any other effective exercises i could do to help re-build this muscles?
    Also, when did you feel you could start taking part in light training sessions with the ball etc?
    Thanks
    Strainer

  23. Good exercises are the weight machines targetting all the muscles, as well as squats and lunges. Targetting the hamstring can be tricky but the elastic band should do it. I also found running with weights on your ankles helps with hamstrings – when running they are used primarily to slow your leg down just before your foot hits the floor, so the extra weight helps build them up.
    Be careful with light sessions – that 3 or 4 month mark is dangerous apparently. Avoid anything that could involve twisting of the knee or that “stopping” motion where you place your foot firmly to stop forward motion. I wouldn’t do any ball work till at least 5 months, but you can really push yourself with sprinting and weights until then.
    Hope it helps Strainer!

  24. Hi Carey,
    i have started to run on the roads, only 1 or 2 times a weeks (small distances) but alot of people are saying that i should run on grass and not the roads. I have proper running shoes and afterwards my knee feels fine, just muscles are sore as i havnt done any running in ages.
    Did you run on the roads or grass?
    Thanks
    Strainer.

  25. Hi Carey,
    I’m 8 weeks post op (hamstring graft) and have started jumping and running this week. I worked extremely hard pre-op to build up the quad and hamstring, therefore am hoping I can return a bit early. Do you think this is realistic or has your experienced advice said to stick thoroughy to the 6 month minimum time frame?
    Also, could you explain why the 3 or 4 month mark is dangerous.
    Cheers,
    Robbie

  26. Hi guys. Bad news for me, found out I have a ACL tear and a meniscus tear from playing football. Ive seen all of you went through the surgery and hope everything is great. But now i’m heading for mine. so I was wondering if anyone could give me some tips how to be ready for the surgery and how to recover the best way. and to stay in shape while injured.
    than k you very much
    cheers

  27. @Strainer – if you feel no pain running on roads, then do it. It may cause problems for some people but I didn’t have a problem. Sand is good because it works you harder and isn’t as high impact. If you can run on grass, do it just in case.
    @Rob It seems very early to be running and jumping – are you seeing a physio? When the new ligament is put in place, it has no blood supply. Over time the body accepts it and it develops cappilaries etc. to supply blood, and therefore becomes stronger. This happens gradually so the middle of the ligament is supplied last. At the 3 to 4 month mark the ligament is almost completely supplied with blood, but that means the very centre is weak compared to the rest of it and if you push it too hard it can snap. Stick entirely to the 6 month minimum time frame – you have come a long way and don’t risk it for the sake of a few weeks.
    @Vlad The surgery generally goes fine and providing you put in the hard work there will be no problems. Before the surgery you can workout pretty much as normal – cycling, cross trainer for cardio and weights for your quads and hamstrings. Straight after surgery you won’t be able to do this so its a good idea to give yourself a head start. Afterwards, follow your physios advice. Don’t push it too quickly but remember that bending your knee is important to make sure you have the range.
    Hope it all goes well guys!

  28. Thank you. Ive been going to the gym for the past 2 weeks. doing weights and cardio. I heard if you are training before the surgery it will speed up the recovery.
    How long have you been working out and is it really true?
    thanks again.

  29. Carey, I read through your comments and you are giving excellent advice. I too have had my ACL reconstructed in June 2010 and now about 4 months on I have just started the gym. With it being a pattellar graft in my case – the knee is still stiff and I cannot fully straighten without a good warm up and the flexion is about 75% what it needs to be.
    I have been cycling for a while (2 months now on a exercise bike) combined with body weight exercises. However, I cannot fully straighten the leg and my Vastus Medialis isnt getting the desired contractions.
    I was wondering how did you get on with the wobble board and proprioception training. I want to get started on mine asap and I have left this out of my exercise plan until now because of the knee stiffness.
    My physio used to be Man City’s physio and is very focused on natural healing and hasnt done anything passive yet – because of the 3-4 month stage and the graft being at its weakest. Who is your physio and how involved was he with your exercise element of your recovery?
    I also tore my ACL playing semi pro football back in 2001 and lived with the injury until 2010 (gave up football and started a family). I will be circa 38 years old on my return and would love to play a little with a bigger focus on other activities like cycling, rowing challenges etc (to keep some competition in my life!). i wish I had gone for the surgery then, but, there were more scare stories in those days then there are now and the surgery idea freaked me alittle at the time.
    I’ll be keen to find out what modifications you have made to your game as a footballer (i.e. Are you playing full back now to avoid over pivoting of knee load?). My game was all about power and Speed as a Attacking Midfielder and as much as I am missing that – I will possibly be resorting to a full back position in a veterans team on my return……but since you are already playing…I’m very keen to find out what you have done modifications wise since your return.
    Finally, does your knee still get Stiff (i.e. more than your better knee?). Have you had any massage? Did it help at the 4 month stage?
    Thanks in Advance Mate.

  30. Hi all
    i just had a acl reconstruction this monday 15 Nov and am moving around on crutches doing excerises twice a day but have notice that when i do static quads my heel will hardly move off the ground is this normal?

  31. hi
    i had acl reconstruction on september 8th, 2010. i used a cadaver acl. I’m approximately 4 months post surgery. my doctor advised i could start jogging on the treadmill. I have been jogging on the the treadmill three times a week for thirty minutes at 4.5 miles per hour. My knee was feeling great. Yesterday i decided to step it up a little and ran 5 miles for 60 minutes at 6.0 miles per hour. My knee feels real sore today. I iced my knee twice last night but my knee feels real sore today. Do you think i over did it and should i take a break from running for a while? i get fitted for my brace on Thursday January 6th, 2011. Should i wait till i get my brace to jog again?

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