As your ligament heals, you’ll be coached through the next phase of recovery; preparing your legs for return to activity. Progress may be slow at first, but your hard work will pay off. For the first few months, you may make regular visits to a physical therapist, who can guide you through your exercise programme. In the end, though, it’s up to you to maintain good leg strength and flexibility for a lifetime.
Although your ligament can be surgically repaired or reconstructed, it won’t be exactly like new again. It’s time to call in reinforcements – your muscles. Specific exercises can strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps and calf muscles, complementing the bracing ability of your ligaments and helping to prevent re-injury
Stretching muscles improves flexibility, allowing your knee to move more efficiently. Use slow, sustained movement without bouncing. You should feel a slight pull in your muscles not pain.
Preparing for sports
Near the end of your formal rehabilitating programme, your physical therapist may recommend exercises designed to stimulate a particular activity, which prepares you for return to a particular sport. For example a skier needs to prepare for sideways motion and a football player can benefit from running patterns such as figure eights.
There’s a beginning and an end to your formal rehabilitation programme. But protecting your knee and maintaining strength is a lifelong commitment. You may need a brace for high-risk activates, such as the twisting and turning motion common in sports. As for strength, ask your physical therapist about good knee-stengthening routines you can do.