It’s every athlete’s worst nightmare. They go up for a shot, get tackled hard or twist incorrectly, and they end up with a dreaded ACL injury. We discuss how you can strengthen that ACL injury and be ready for the rest of your days!

The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is a ligament in the knee that works to provide passive stability to the knee joint. It also prevents the tibia from slipping forward, away from the femur. It is one of the most commonly injured ligaments in the knee and when injured, the symptoms can range from pain and swelling, to decreased range of motion and loss of stability.

Injuries to the ACL are rated on a three point scale depending on their severity and the degree of damage to the ligament.

Grade 1 – Refers to mild damage of the ligament (less than 25% damaged) when stability will not be affected.
Grade 2 – Refers to moderate damage of the ligament (with up to 50% damaged) leading to some instability in the knee.
Grade 3 – Refers to a full rupture of the ligament where the knee will experience the greatest amount of instability.

Sprained ACL recovery time will be dependent on the grade of sprain or tear you have sustained to the ligament and your post-rehab goals. However, typical return to sport following surgical reconstruction ranges from 9-12 months.

Regardless of whether or not you will be having surgery to repair the ligament, early post injury guidelines will be the same.

As goes for many injuries, the number one goal for early rehab is regaining full range of motion in the joint. This generally means that the swelling has been flushed out and the area is primed for progressive strengthening. For an ACL tear it’s really no different, therefore, the first exercises are going to be geared towards flushing out the swelling and getting that knee moving.