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Emily’s Football Focus - Part 2

Part 2: ACL Knee injuries - Rehabilitation

In the previous article, we spoke about how ACL knee injuries occur and the best ways to prevent them from happening. However, in the case that you do sustain an ACL injury, it’s important that you know where to go from here and have a clear rehabilitation plan.

As a footballer, ACL reconstruction surgery is usually needed if you plan to return to football as the sport requires a high amount of twisting and turning - which your ACL is hugely important for! Your rehabilitation process needs to be of a high standard to ensure that you can get back to performing at your best on the football pitch, and doing this in a safe and timely manner.

Here is Emily’s ACL rehabilitation guide, with top tips for each stage of your recovery:

Stage 1: Injury Recovery and Readiness for Surgery

Before undergoing surgery, it is important to allow the knee to settle from the injury and regain good movement and strength, allowing for the best possible outcomes long-term after surgery. The goals of this stage are:

- Get rid of swelling - ice, compression and elevation of the injured knee

- Regain full movement in the knee

- Regain strength of the injured leg - ideally 90% of the strength you have on the uninjured side!

Stage 2: Recovery from Surgery

After ACL surgery, it’s important that you prioritize rest and recovery, no matter how tempting it is to get going again! The main things to aim for after surgery are:

- Get the knee straight by doing gentle exercises that practice bending and straightening the knee

- Bring swelling down - regular icing and compression around the knee

- Get the quads (thigh muscles) firing again

Stage 3: Strength and Control

Starting with simple bodyweight type exercises, you will progress to a gym-based routine with the aim to:

- Regain single leg balance on the injured leg

- Regain muscle strength

- Be able to perform a single leg squat with good control and technique

The most important thing here is to LISTEN TO YOUR KNEE and only progress rehabilitation as the knee allows. An increase in pain or swelling are the two main warning signs that your knee is not reacting well to these activities and this is when you need to be patient and progress accordingly.

Stage 4: Running, Jumping and Landing

Alongside a gym-based strength programme, this is the stage where you can get running and jumping again! A mix of agility drills, jumping and hopping are included at this stage, making the rehabilitation a bit more football specific. At the end of this phase, you need to have:

- Perfected your technique on jumping, hopping and landing exercises

- Regained full strength and balance - back to, or better than, where you were before the injury happened!

Stage 5: Return to Football

This is where you can start to add in the exercises and training activities that were typical for you before the injury. Not only does the knee need to be strong and ready to get back to football, but you as the athlete need to be confident and mentally ready to return to sport - this comes through getting back into training and match play situations with teammates.

Most importantly, the work needs to continue in the background to prevent re-injury - these are the things we spoke about in the previous article!


Here at SV Sports Therapy we can guide you along the way in your ACL injury rehabilitation by providing bespoke treatment and rehabilitation plans - allowing you to get back on the football pitch safely and back to performing at your best!

Get in touch today if this is you.

Give us a call to book in with Emily on 02034944343 or email or if you are an existing client, you can also book online here. We would love to serve you!


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