Preparing for the long road ahead of an ACL surgery can seem like a daunting task. The months of rehab, the limited mobility, and the loss of time can be especially painful for any developing athlete. Luckily, sports medicine is more advanced than ever before. Through education about your surgery and proven recovery techniques, you have more tools than ever at your disposal to overcome the obstacles that come with having ACL surgery. One such tool for making the most of your recover is prehab for ACL reconstruction.
What Does Prehabilitation Entail?
Prehab, short for prehabilitation, is often recommended by orthopedic surgeons, like those at Town Center Orthopaedic Associates, before intensive surgeries to aid in your post-recovery time. Just like it's important to stretch before a run, or warm up before throwing a pitch, preparing yourself for the stress and strain that will come after ACL surgery is essential to get maximum benefit out of your recovery.
In prehab, you're effectively preparing your body to be able to withstand a physically taxing event, ACL reconstruction or surgery. You do this by enhancing the parts of your body that are going to be operated on and taxed post surgery, such as the surrounding muscles in your knee and the muscles in your calves, through exercise so the procedure can be the most effective possible.
Some of the common recommended moves for ACL prehab include leg raises, heel slides, as well as double and single leg balancing exercises. These exercises can also be done with either resistance bands, weights, or other machines. The key here is to make sure you're working with an expert, such as a physical therapist, to make sure you're doing the correct procedure tailored to your body. Often times your orthopedic surgeon will recommend a physical therapist for you, and provide them with information regarding the extent of your injury and your upcoming surgery so they can tailor prehab to your specific situation.
Does It Actually Work?
Studies have shown when comparing similar groups of people who do the prehab, as well as those who skip the prehab, the individuals who went through with the exercise routines of prehab score higher in both weight bearing exercises, as well as individual knee tests, including the single-leg hop test. Compared to individuals who failed to do the prehabilitation exercises, prehab participants were able to recover enough to return to normal sporting activities up to 8 weeks sooner than those who did not participate. Added benefits also include lower risk of side effects after the surgery, such as post-operative stiffness as well as loss of balance.
Not Taking it Lying Down
In order for prehab to be truly effective, it's important the exercises organized by your training professional be done on a regular schedule. In most cases this means daily work that can sometimes be grueling. For many athletes this is one of the toughest parts of the endeavor. Not only are you fighting a physical battle against yourself, but also a mental and emotional one as you attempt to overcome a devastating injury. If you truly believe the end result is worth the effort, it will be easier to reach your desired goals in record time. ACL experts agree that participating in prehab is one of the most important tools in recovery process, so if you're staring down the surgery, it's time to take it on head on.
If you are scheduled for ACL surgery, consult with your orthopedic surgeon to get a recommendation for a prehap physical therapist. Working hard before your surgery will make recovery from your ACL surgery less physically, and emotionally, taxing.