wikiHow to Avoid Re Tearing an ACL

Three Parts:Exercising to Strengthen the ACLProtecting the ACLCaring For a Re-Torn ACL

The ACL is a ligament in the knee joint that connects the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone). It helps to stabilize the knee, by preventing it from moving inwards or outwards. Unfortunately, once you have torn the ACL once, you much more likely to tear it again. However, you can take steps to prevent this from happening by doing exercises to strengthen the knee and the surrounding muscles, and by taking certain preventative measures. See Step 1 below to get started.

Part 1
Exercising to Strengthen the ACL

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    Do squats to strengthen the knee and hip joints. Squats are a very effective exercise for avoid ACL re injury, as they strengthen the gluteal and gracilis muscles that help in supporting of the hip joints and the knee joints. To do a squat:
    • Stand about one foot away from a wall, then lean back until your back is touching it.
    • Slide down the wall, bending your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Don't allow your knees to extend beyond your toes.
    • Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds, then return to the starting position and repeat the exercise 5 to 10 times.
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    Try one-legged bridges to strengthen the muscles that support the knee joint. This exercise helps to strengthen the tibialis anterior, gastrocnemius and rectus femoralis — a group of muscles that support the knee joint. To do one-legged bridges:
    • Lie on your back on the ground, facing a wall. Bend one knee, but extend the other leg so your foot is against the wall.
    • Use your bent leg for support as you lift your hips and straight leg off the floor, so your body forms a diagonal line from your foot to your shoulders.
    • Hold this position for 10 to 30 seconds, then relax. Repeat the exercise 10 to 12 times.
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    Perform forward lunges to strengthen the thigh and support the knee joint. This forward lunge exercise helps to support the rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, gastrocnemius and gracilis — muscles which support the thighs and knee joints To do a forward lunge:
    • Stand up straight with your feet one shoulder-width apart. Take a large step forward with one foot and bend your knees until the front knee forms a 90 degree angle and the back knee is almost touching the floor. Make sure the knee of the front foot doesn't extend beyond the toes.
    • Next, take a large step forward with the back foot and repeat the exercise, this time with the opposite leg in front. Keep performing the lunges, in a walking motion, until you have completed 10 to 15 steps. This counts as 1 set. Repeat for 2 to 3 sets.
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    Do jumps to practice control. Performing small, controlled jumps allows you to practice landing properly, putting minimum stress on the knees. This landing technique can then be applied when you return to sporting activities. To do the jumps:
    • Stand with your feet one shoulder width apart and take a small jump forward. Try to land on both feet simultaneously, as this helps to distribute your weight and avoids putting more stress on one knee than the other.
    • It is very important to bend your knees as you land, as this absorbs the shock of the jump and avoids stressing the knee joints and the ACL. Try to maintain proper body alignment, with the hips placed over the knees and the knees placed over the ankles.[1]
    • Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times, for 2 to 3 sets. Once your knees have become stronger, you can increase the intensity of this exercise by jumping off a low box (up to 12 inches in height) instead.
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    Do balance exercises to regain knee stability. Performing balance exercises helps the injured knee to regain stability while also strengthening the gluteal and gracilis muscles that support the thigh and knees.[2]
    • Stand on your injured leg on a stable surface with the slightly bent and your body properly aligned (knee over ankle, hip over knee). Try to hold the one-legged stance for 10 to 30 seconds, before relaxing. Repeat 8 to 12 times on each leg.
    • As your balance improves, you can make the exercise more difficult by closing your eyes as you do it, lifting the opposite knee up and down, standing on an unstable surface, or throwing a ball back and forth with a partner.
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    Use a resistance band. Resistance bands help to strengthen the knee joint and the surrounding muscles, by making them work harder to perform a simple action. Resistance bands can be used in a multitude of exercises, to increase their difficulty level. Here are a few simple exercises you can do:
    • Sit on a chair with your back straight and place a resistance band around your ankles. Raise your injured leg until the band is stretched and you feel resistance in your quadriceps. Repeat 10 times.
    • Lie on the floor on your stomach and place one end of the resistance band around the ankle of your injured leg and the other around a sturdy object (like the leg of a table). Bend your leg at the knee, bringing your heel towards your butt, until the band is stretched and you feel resistance in your hamstrings. Repeat 10 times.[3]

Part 2
Protecting the ACL

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    Wear a knee brace to support and protect the knee. Wearing a knee brace following an ACL tear can help you to avoid re-injury. The brace is made from lightweight materials that support the knee and protect the ligaments inside the joint.
    • There are different types of knee braces depending on the type of physical activity you intend to pursue — lightweight ones for people who just want to go for a daily walk, or more heavy duty ones for athletes returning to sport.[4]
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    Always warm up properly before exercise. It is essential to warm up properly before doing any form of exercise, as this warms the muscles, joints and ligaments and prepares them for physical activity. This significantly reduces the chance of injury.
    • You can warm up by doing 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching, such as jumping jacks, straight leg kicks or running on the spot.
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    Don't push yourself too hard. Pushing yourself too far too soon is one surefire way to re-tear your ACL. It is essential that you go through the entire rehabilitation process following an injury to regain full strength and mobility in your knee joint, and that you delay returning to your regular exercise or sports routine until your physical therapist gives you the okay.
    • When performing the rehabilitation exercises, it is essential that you stop or decrease the intensity of the exercise once you start to feel any pain. These exercises should challenge the muscles, ligaments and joints, but they shouldn't be painful.

Part 3
Caring For a Re-Torn ACL

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    Recognize the symptoms of a re-torn ACL. If you have already experienced an ACL injury, you are probably familiar with the symptoms of a torn ACL. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms early on so you can seek treatment and begin the path to recovery. Symptoms of a torn ACL include:
    • A popping or cracking sound at the time of the injury.
    • Pain that ranges from moderate to severe, depending on the extent of the injury.
    • Swelling and inflammation around the knee joint, accompanied by tenderness, redness and a feeling of warmth.
    • Inability to move or extend the knee, or knee instability.[5]
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    Use the RICE method to heal a torn ACL. Immediately following an ACL injury or tear the RICE method must be used to prevent the injury from becoming any worse and begin the healing process. The RICE method works as follows:
    • Rest: The knee must be rested for at least the first 72 hours following the injury. Avoid doing any form of physical activity.
    • Ice: Apply an ice pack or cold compress to the injured knee for 10 to 20 minutes intervals. This reduces swelling and inflammation.
    • Compression: Wear an elasticated knee brace around the injured knee to support the joint, prevent unnecessary movement and prevent swelling.
    • Elevation: The knee must be elevated above heart level using cushions and pillows to prevent and reduce swelling.[6]
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    Take medication to relieve any pain. Following an ACL tear, your doctor may prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) to relieve pain and bring down swelling. The most commonly prescribed NSAIDS include ibuprofen and Voltaren.
    • If you have a history of gastrointestinal upsets, gastric or peptic ulcers, renal or hepatic diseases, or you are currently taking any blood thinners such as Warfarin, you need to be very cautious about taking NSAIDS, so speak to your doctor first.
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    Undergo surgery following severe tears. For most people, following the RICE protocol and and completing a thorough rehabilitation program will be enough to restore full mobility and strength to the knee. However, in the case of severe injuries, surgery may be required to repair the torn ACL. This surgery is particularly common amongst athletes.
    • The surgery is normally performed several weeks following the injury to allow time for the swelling and inflammation to go down.
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    Follow a rehabilitation program to regain knee mobility and strength. Regardless of whether you have undergone surgery or not, a thorough rehabilitation program (usually lasting for up to 6 months) will be necessary to return your knee to full strength and mobility. [7]For more detailed information on how to rehabilitate your knee following an ACL injury, see this article.

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Categories: Feet Knees and Legs | Injury and Accidents