ACL Tear Stretches & Exercises – Ask Doctor Jo


Hey everybody, it’s Doctor Jo, and today I’m
gonna show you some stretches and exercises for an ACL Tear that’s either non-operative
or a pre-op workout. Alright, let’s get started. So the ACL stands for Anterior Cruciate Ligament.
And it is the ligament in your knee that prevents it form sliding forward and backward to give
you that stability. So if it’s torn, besides a lot of pain, a lot of times you have instability
in that knee. And it feels like it’s wobbling when you walk and it can be really painful.
So even if you’re gonna have to have surgery, a lot of times it’s a really good idea to
do the stretches and exercises before because the more motion and strength you can have
before surgery, the better your recovery is gonna be afterwards. So let’s just start off
with some simple stuff to get that knee moving and get some of that swelling and irritation
out of there. The first one is just gonna be a heel slide. So the leg that you’re gonna
work, you’re gonna put it all the way down. And it’s gonna be just like it sounds, you’re
gonna slide your heel up towards your bottom. So just bringing it up this way and then slowly
coming back down. Now if it’s hurting, you might only be able to get to about here. And
that’s ok. Just go, give it a little push and then come back down. But you don’t really
want to force it through pain right now. Especially if you have that tear in there, you just want
to keep that movement that you can and get that circulation in there to help some of
that swelling get out. So just start off with about 10 of these and then work your way up
to more sets of 10 and then 20 – 25 if those become easy. And then coming back down. Then
next one is gonna be a quad set. With a quad set, what you’re doing is squeezing that quad
muscle. Tightening it up to push that knee down into the ground. Sometimes people take
a little towel to roll it up. If you have that tear and it’s just happened recently,
it might be really painful to straighten it all the way out, so putting a little towel
roll might help. But otherwise you’re gonna contract that muscle there, squeeze down just
like you’re trying to push your knee down into the ground. If you pull your toes up,
that helps do that setting as well. Hold it for about 3 – 5 seconds and then relax. So
you see how it’s squeezing there to push down into the ground. Holding it, coming back up.
Again, just start off with about 10 of those and work your up from there. The next one
is just gonna be an ankle pump. Because even though stuff is going on at your knee, the
muscles that move the ankle also come up around that knee. So you want to make sure all that
stuff is working and moving so it doesn’t get tight on you. Just prop it up on something.
Foam rollers work really well, you don’t have to use a foam roller, you can just put it
off the edge of the bed, or prop it up on a stool on the ground, but you want your heel
to be free moving because you’re just gonna push down and then come all the way back up.
Try and keep your knee straight if you can, you saw mine try and bend a little bit, but
just push down and then come up. And you’re gonna be working these calf muscles in the
back, the anterior muscles in the front, and just getting those moving. Again, making a
natural pump, that’s why it’s called ankle pump, to get that irritation, swelling, inflammation
out of the leg back in to your body. So with these, you can start off with more than just
10, you can go ahead and start off with 15 – 20 of them. And do them several times throughout
the day just to keep that swelling out of there. Alright. The next one we’ll still use
the roll for that, is gonna be, we call it a short arc quad, SAQ. Put the roll, or you
can roll up a big towel, and put it up under the knee. Just relax the knee. The knee is
not gonna come up off of the roll. So this is nice cause it helps to support the knee
a little bit. And then you’re just gonna try and straighten out your leg as much as you
can. And then slowly come back down. Really try to control the coming back down. Don’t
just plop it back down. Besides it hurting a little bit, it’s not actually working the
muscles. So come up, kind of squeeze at the end, again squeezing that quad muscle, and
then slowly come back down. Just start off again, with 10 of these and then you can slowly
work your way up after that. The next one is gonna be a straight leg raise. Most of
the time you want to start lying all the way down, but you can kind of prop yourself up
as well. The higher up you go, the harder it is, so I’m just gonna kind of prop up on
my elbows. Again you want to keep your knee as straight as you can, so kind of squeezing
that quad muscle to lock the leg out. Also pull up your toes cause that helps keep everything
nice and straight. And then just slowly lift it up to about even with the other side, and
really controlled coming back down. Again the coming back down is just as important
as the going up. So make sure going nice and slow and controlled. Again just starting off
with 10 of these and then work your way up to about 20 – 25. If 20 -25 becomes easy,
then you can put a little bit of weight on your ankles just starting off with 1 pound.
And then the last one is just a prop. A knee prop. And the reason you want to do this is
to try and get the motion in your knee here cause a lot of times after you have that tear,
your knee doesn’t want to straighten out anymore. So again, taking a roll or sit in a chair
and put another chair in front of you or ottoman or a stool. And just let it prop up there.
So, if you’re knee is feeling like this. Gravity will help kind of straighten it out while
you’re propping it up there. Now again, this might be very uncomfortable when you first
do it. You might just want to do it for 30 seconds to a minute. But then eventually work
your way up to 2 minutes, 5 minutes and hopefully it will just start straightening out for you.
There you have it, those are your stretches and exercises for an ACL Tear non-operatively
or pre-operatively. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments section. If you’d
like to check out some other videos, go to AskDoctorJo.com and remember, be safe, have
fun and I hope you feel better soon.

100 Replies to “ACL Tear Stretches & Exercises – Ask Doctor Jo”

  1. Hi,

    Thank you for your video!

    I have a complete ACL & Meniscus tear with Bone Contusions. All from making a sharp turn while running 😭.

    It’s been 11 days and still very swollen.

    Most concerning to me is my Calf seems more swollen and in more pain than my knee.

    Is this normal?

  2. Thank you! I couldn't get time with a physiotherapist this week and I am going back home on Monday. This helps until I come home and get to see a proper physiotherapist. Great video!

  3. Hy Doctor JO I had met with my bike accident before couple of months ago. I got profound injury at my left knee. I am unable to bent my left leg. I have done MRI. Here is my MRI conclusion.

    1. Partial intrasubstance tear involving femoral attachment of ACL.
    2. Marrow edema involving medial femoral and both tibial condyles.
    3. Grade II hyperintensity in postier horn of medial mediscus.
    4. Mild joint effusion. Mild fatty synovial hypertrophy to represent minimal component of lipoma arborescens.
    I have recently done MRI. So mam can I do these exercises? My doctor suggested me to operation of Ligament surgery? Can my problem be solved by your suggested exercises?

  4. I have partial ACL tears in my right knee. is doing these excerises and going to my phyisical therapist sessions can help me back to football again? btw my doctor told me if you are profesional player and want to play go for surgery, and he adviced me to do physical sessions and see how my knee will be after the sessions
    Is there probablity that i can go back to courts without having surgery ?

  5. Mam thanks
    But I help you
    My knee operations was 2 months ago and doctor say – you can exercise but some injury ( ghav ) it is my knee place i feel very pain in exercise time so he is not molding my knee so please help me mam

  6. Im meet with an accident an my ACL and pcl are torned and operated 11th feb 2019 know my knee is not bending completly only 90° is bending what can i do for my normal life plz help me.

  7. Hlo doctor..
    Today is 16 days passed of my ACL surgery..
    From last 2-3 days I m suffering from mild pain and also I was not slept last 2 nights because of this pain irritation…!!
    And due to this I was unable to perform exercise which doctor prescribed me…
    Please suggest something…🙏

  8. Had ACL surgery 6 days ago. Lying in bed the pain is fine but when I get up out of bed on my crutches the pain intensifies. Is it because I am not walking enough?

  9. I have an injury in my right knee back due to playing on an uneven ground. Please let me know that how can I get rid of it.

  10. Hi, thanks for your video.

    I recently(3 MONTHS) fell down while turning one side to other, I felt like my knee was going down, after that I took MRI. Doctor said ligament got strained.

    Still now, I am having uncomfort and pain in knee. Could you please suggest what can I do further

  11. Thank you for this video. MRI said ACL mild sprain. Are these exercises good? But it’s been a long time , about 3 months, I still can not bend the knee as the uninjured. Is this normal? How many times a week physical therapy do I need? Thank you by the way, where can I buy the cylinder beneath your knee? Thanks

  12. Is it really important to undergo a surgery for complete acl tear? Being from a sports background will this affect my sports career ahead?

  13. Hi nice to see the video. I have a Partial tear of Right knee ACL injury. I have mild pain bending the knee.will this excercise help me In healing the injury and avoid surgery?

  14. I had Acl and miniscus surgery. I want to know should i start my game activity back or keep away and do some other activities . Which is batter for future and old age ?

  15. Hi Doc, thank you very much for the help i have an ACL tear in my right knee. I cant bend my knee but still can walk. So do you suggest that walking is fine in ACL tear
    Best regards
    Ali

  16. I am 17 year old girl and my ACL is torn of left knee and now even my right knee is paining ..doctors asked for operation but some doctors even suggested that I should take rest and not go for operation at such young age ..now I can't run or walk much and even can't dance or any other activities .please help me and suggest me something can these exercises work for me and will it be safe ?

  17. I tore my acl playing soccer. I’m afraid that when I have surgery and come back to playing soccer I won’t be able to play like I used to

  18. So I tore my acl while I was at my dance competition last December and every since then my knee just pops in and out of place when I walked anywhere but this time I think I tore something else because my whole leg went numb and the liquid that’s in my leg hardened up🤦🏽‍♀️ what should I do?

  19. Hlw ma'am I had injury of my left knee and my doctor firstly continued with medicine to reduce swelling but its was reducing and they suggest me to go for MRI and in MRI report ACL and miniscus tear was mentioned but in arthoscopy doctor found every thing is normal .
    Ma'am I feel pain in walking and sometime when I straight up my leg I feel some thing is blocked or two things are getting in contract.what is this ? Ma'am plz help me in solving my plm.

  20. Hi Doctor Jo, I'm suspecting that I may have an ACL injury. My doctor checked my knee and told me there was some looseness in the ligament. My injury happened as I was kneeling down with my feet flat on the ground and I lifted my body with heavy dumbells in my hands and I heard a pop and the quad muscle went stiff. There was no swelling and I can bend my knee without any problems other than a clicking knee each time I bend it, although I do feel sometimes that the knee is giving way slightly. It happened about 5 years ago and I have an MRI scan next week. Is it possible from your experience that this might not be an ligament tear and could be something else? And if it is a grade 1 ACL tear, is there a chance surgery be avoided? Thnks for your help!

  21. I recently tore my ACL I’m 16 and healthy, you know besides my knee but while I was doing one of your exercises my knee kind of like popped it didn’t hurt and my knee actually feels better, is this normal ???

  22. My left knee as become damage so which kind of excess it helps to become well madam and please can you reply to my question madam

  23. I've had a small partial ACL tear and I've been suggested non surgical treatment for one and a half months. After the recovery, can I run or dance as I used to without any precautions? Please answer mam!

  24. I was diagnosed with partial ACL tear.
    3 years ago, I am able to walk properly without any difficulty but if I jump or do such sort of activity I can feel little pain in my knee.
    What should I do?

  25. Hi Dr Jo I have a complete acl tear. Middle meniscus shows a horizontal oblique tear grade II sprain in deep portion of MCL mild joint effusion longitudinal tear.. and i have completed my operation.. can these exercise be helpful??

  26. Hello doc..I have had an Intra-substance tear in Acl, non-operative 4 months ago..As of now I am doing quite well. During my rest period I have gained a bit of weight. Can you please suggest me few exercises for abdomen, arms and thighs. My only restriction for now is not to put too much pressure on knee along with exercises suggested by my doc and you.. Awaiting your reply. Thanks.

  27. Hi mam. I am suffering from ACL partial tear 6 months before. ORTHO DR suggested me to go for a surgery but my physiotherapy dr saying surgery not required for partial tear. With doing strengthen exercise it will get cure.. I am confused pls suggest me mam

  28. Hi Joe- can I do the same exercise after ACL surgery as well . I have done my surgery 3 months back and I have pain and the knee stretching is not 100%

  29. Hi mam. I am suffering from ACL partial tear.. after physiotherapy I am doing strengthening exercises daily but my both knees getting pain.. pls tel me mam y I am getting

  30. Hey Dr.jo..
    My mri tests showed grade1 acl injury and its been over a month but I'm not still able to walk normally..
    How much should grade1 acl injury take to heal?…

  31. Hello Dr. Jo..

    I have / had a severe pain on the knee where it connects the lower bone, but it goes off if I rest it for two+ days, does it still be a ACL tear?

  32. Hello Dr Jo, I had a huge op back in 1990, due to skiing. Had a tear to acl, mcl and cartilage. Any ways had a break from running but this week (getting back to my running) my knee is hurting. Not bending so well, achy under the knee.
    Any mobility to do for this. Thinking tight muscles surrounding, may have done a few too many miles after a month of less running fasting. Anyway old injury rehab ha. Any ideas? Thank you.

  33. Hi jo
    Its been six weeks after my acl and patial meniscus surgery. When can i go to work in which i have to walk for 6 hours

  34. As per my Doc after evaluating x ray/physical, I have an acl stretch or little tear. He advised to wear knee brace and wait 4 weeks. Is it serious.? Can I do these exercises? Will it help?

  35. Hi there,I got my knee twisted and it got sprained its been a week now I can walk on it its just the swelling and bruise on it,How long does it take to heal and can i start doing these exercises? Thank you!

  36. My acl have teae. I want to go for surgery but I have a confussion that when Dr do arthroscopic surgery in knee and making the tunnel in knee .then is tunnel damage our knee bone growing capacity? I am 21year old student. Please reply

  37. Hey i have low grade 1 horizontal tear and acl partial tear,should i do this? I dnt want surgery,can i recover it by doing excersises

  38. Hi Dr Jo, I watch your YouTube videos a lot ,I think you are the best to follow regarding strengthening exercises! What struck me the most was the exercises you showed in this video is like a low-impact pilates mat exercises “which I think is the bees knees ,Sorry no pun intended “! 😁Thank you so much for doing your terrific,helpful videos! 😊💕 x

  39. It will cure the problem without surgery ?!!!
    Because I have this problem but I'm afraid to go with surgery 🤕🤕🤕

  40. Hi Dr Jo, thanks for a useful physio and your background explanations of the muscle physiology. It all helps to do the right thing by my knee :-). 1.5 weeks ago, when skiing, I torn my right ACL and partially the posterior horn of my right medial meniscus. First week, no walking, pain, swelling, now I walk almost normally, can do all exercises, but still cannot put full load on the injured leg. I may have had partial tear in both ligaments since my childhood (skiing :-). Had MRI, doc said, no operation, as I am 50. Maybe later, if it bothers me.
    My question is: will the scar tissue replace the ACL and how strong will it be approx? Can blood flow, massage and the physio exercises increase chances of ACL re-growth / meniscus re-join? Also, when bending, the knee goes through a dull "click" – a bit painful, at approx 75% of the full bend. Will these clicks disappear too?

  41. Hi Dr. I had ACL surgery about a month ago. and I can't bend my knee, not about 20 degree. Why is it???

  42. Hello Dr Jo, started my post op rehab 2 days ago. Its been a week since my acl surgery.. my hamstring and calf is hurting a lot after 2nd day of doing rehab workouts. Do i need to slow down on the workouts or is it normal to hurt this bad. Thanks!

  43. While jogging I stepped in a pothole and my leg got twisted, all this happened in Feb 2k19 and my knee is still having pain

  44. Hallow mam, I had a lagament injury before 1.5 year, there is no pain but if I gave a long pressure over the leg , then It was bending… How to improve the injured leg power??

  45. Thanks dear for shareing such a important information for patients like me, thank you so much, god bless you

  46. I got injury when i was playing foot ball. I stepped my foot on the ball and twist my knee now three weeks completed . In first week completely taken rest.After i started exercises for knee make strengthening for muscle . Now i can fold my knee completely for walking also no problem. But i am sitting on the floor for praying i can feel pain but no swelling . Please reply me

  47. Hi Doctor thanks for sharing the video. I had Tibial eminence with laxity in acl and medial meniscus tear 1 month ago. I was on immobilization for 1 month and now I'm able to flex my knee and do all suggested exercises mentioned in the video, is that mean my acl is recovering from Tibial side.

  48. Hi Dr. I have a right knee acl injury, and its paining when i walk and work, if it really recover without surgery plz reply me and suggest me.

  49. I've been back playing football/soccer for about 6 months after I finished with my rehabilitation of my acl, just a few days ago I have been having the same problem with it, it happened during my last match

  50. Hii madam…. I got grade1 acl tear
    Can it be complete cured with out surgery, i underwent physiotherapy from the last 30days….

  51. Hello Dr… I m suffering from the knee injury frm 1 year here is the MRI result… Conclusion""partial PCL tear with grade 1 tear of posterior horn of media meniscus and mild joint sffusion"" should i start this exercises… And i m under treatment frm 9 mnth and i can't walk more than 15 mnts.

  52. Buy a printable worksheet with the ACL Tear Stretches & Exercises in this video here: https://www.askdoctorjo.com/purchase-acl-tear-worksheet

  53. Hello dr.Jo I was affected by grade 3 acl tear I take knee immobilizer to recover and complete rest is it okay or I want surgery my age is 15 please say

  54. Hyy🙌 my two legs are injured, both are ligament injuries 😂🙊.. my right leg already injured and left is new, now Iam resing, Im a psycho football player😕😁🙊.. so thank you sooOoo much mam for this video which is 💯% helpful 4 me🙏 and Im doing it with you… 💽.. tysm🙏💃💗🍬🍫💎😋🏃

  55. I had a knee injury 40 days ago and I couldn't walk the first week, I just started running and sprinting without problems but I can't kick the ball yet, what do u you think I have? I took x rays but that doesn't help to see if I tore my ligaments, my friends said should be the Acl because my pain is in that side. I can't take an MRI because is super expensive here. Do you think this exercises can help me to fully heal without a surgery?

  56. Hello Dr.
    My acl Surgery of right knee is done 1 and half month ago… But my leg didn't bend… so plz tell me any solution for this

  57. Hello Dr.my right leg fibula fracture in joint…Now is better then after treatment..But my leg it l be didn't come to fold it…How will come back and front…Give a solution doctor

  58. Hi I have complete ACL tear recently.. is it okay to wear the Knee support while doing this exercise. Since I cannot fold my leg completely these brace gives me confidence while exercising. Pls advise.
    Thanks

  59. Hi Dr. Jo.
    Sorry if this is too long but I really need some help. I had ACL repair surgery using patellar graft 9 years ago. I've done pretty good for the most part but recently I started squatting and lunging, and it has been getting really sore and cracking, and I've lost mobility and strength in it since. What advice do you have?

    Thank you so much.

  60. Hi Doc, I had Complete ACL year 2 weeks ago. I have been practicing your physical exercise from 1 week and I feel much better on my left knee. I don’t feel the pain while walking. Do I need wear braces during the day while I am at work? Is it really necessary? Thanks in advance!

  61. Good morning doctor! I have a question. Where are you from? I am searching for a good doctor who can make me a surgery for an ACL and tear meniscus in England 🙂

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