ACL rehabilitation month 6

Posted on July 23, 2012


As I talked about in ACL Rehab Month 5, in month 6 I took some time off. I took a break from any heavier lifting and intense running. I also went on vacation for 10 days to Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. All I have to say about that is if you ever get a chance to go to Vancouver, GO! Just go. Especially if you are a male….Trust me.

Ugh, Vancouver, if you read this, know that I miss you.

Anyways, this time off has done me wonders. I feel the best I have ever felt this whole process. I’m completely refreshed and I feel the end in sight of this long, tedious saga.

With that said, it’s not like I did nothing all of month 6. I took the month to work on a few things I felt I really needed along with whatever came to mind. Part of the idea in month 6 was to not have to think and not have to follow some extremely regimented routine. In other words, I wanted to feel half-normal again. And it’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way. (Before I tore my ACL.)

I think this month’s recap can serve as a nice review of some of the more important concepts in ACL rehabilitation. I’m going to just list things in no particular order. I’ll try and include as many videos as I can along with a brief synopsis on why each thing is important.

-Maintaining knee HYPERextension


I wrote about this a ton the first 6 weeks or so of this process. Suffice to say, regaining a few degrees of hyperextension is one of the big indicators for long-term progress. There was no way I was going to ignore this for an entire month. I check it every couple of days or so just to be sure. And there’s been no issues for really a few months now.

-Knee flexion

I’ve been doing this in the form of a toddler squat. Literally like a toddler would squat:

This has always felt good on my knees. If I’m tight, it loosens things up, and it’s a great hip mobility exercise too.

-Wrapping the knee

Some days I just feel better than others. On the days I feel stiffer or a little fluid build up in the knee, I wrap it. It’s not for pain, it just feels good. And it feels great when I take the wrap off.  I may only do it a couple times every few days, but it always helps.

I wrote about this in How to wrap a knee injury; here is the video too:

-Hip extension flexibility (TFL and Rectus Femoris) in the form of The best damn it band stretch ever (Laying down and standing)

I have a history of anterior knee pain and this helps keep it at bay.

-Single leg strength

I wrote about this in A different single leg exercise.

My main emphasis this past month was to pick exercises where ONLY my reconstructed leg was working. I really wanted to isolate it. I used three exercises, focusing on the quad, hamstrings, and glutes, to get this done.

1) STANDING hamstring curls

I wrote about this in Thoughts on hamstring curls. This has been by far one of the most important revelations during this 7 month process. I only wish one of my THREE dumb ass physical therapists would have brought this to my attention.

I’m still not completely as strong as my non-surgery leg yet, but I’m getting there. Honestly, this has been one of the harder parts of this process. I didn’t think regaining my hamstring strength would be this hard or take this long. Being patient here is getting very hard for me. I AM making improvement though. And as long I keep making improvement, eventually I’ll get there.

Also, I think my improvement here is also one of the main reasons running is feeling so much better for me now than 6 weeks ago.

2) For the quad: Single leg standing / squat with back on wall

This, along with the hamstring curls, has become one of my main benchmarks for how my leg compares to my non-surgery leg. I still have some shaking and strength left to achieve on my reconstructed leg, but I keep being able to hold myself lower and lower. A sign it is getting stronger.

As I’ve mentioned, when I would do other single leg exercises they just weren’t quite getting the job done. A lot of times I was favoring my good leg, or I just couldn’t get the right positioning. Using the wall has helped tremendously.

3) Glutes-Bridge with leg kicks

I picked this up from Eric Cressey and Mike Reinold. This was just a nice change of pace from doing boring ole bridges and such. It also helped me realize I had some strength imbalances in the obliques as well.

For instance, when I would straighten my right leg my hips would stay nice and even. One wouldn’t fall lower than the other. When I would straighten my left leg though, my left hip would fall.

(Remember, my right leg is the leg that had surgery.)

Notice the differences here:

This is due to a combination of the right leg not being as strong as the left leg and some strength differences between the obliques. (Which can be a bit complicated; I’ll delve into that another time.)

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