Why Strength Training Is So Important During ACL Rehab

ACL injury is a common in sport, and in previous times was potentially career ending. These days, typically 60-80% of ACL reconstructions return to sport. However, unfortunately, a large portion of these end up with another knee injury at a later date.

As a Physio it’s our job to get you back to sport and as bullet proof as possible. Part of our research covers the Melbourne ACL Guide 2.0 which in part aims to ensure ACL-R rehab is a criteria-driven process. What makes it ‘2.0’? Part F: Functional Testing in a Fatigued State.

Research shows that nearly 40% of ACL-R rehab patients don’t hit all the correct criteria to Return to Sport.

What’s more interesting, the research has shown how limb symmetry index decreases once again when the athlete is in a fatigued state. 

Factors that contribute to fatigue: 

  • Poor cardiovascular capacity
  • Reduced muscle strength
  • Reduced muscular endurance
  • Poor nutrition/hydration
ACL Strength Training

What is S&C and Why Is It Important?

Strength and Conditioning coaches form an integral part of athletic development. At Precision Athletica, they focus on the ground up – meaning creating a solid foundation of mobility and movement patterns, and then building onto this a foundation through increased strength, endurance, speed, power, or cardiovascular conditioning.

Guidance from a Physiotherapist and S&C is extremely valuable during ACL-Rehab.

When Can ACL-R Athletes Start S&C?

The first 2-4 weeks in ACL-R rehab is crucial.

Our primary goals here are to allow healing through managing the swelling, restoring range of motion, and getting surrounding muscle activation. Following this initial post operative period, strength and conditioning can (should) commence as soon as possible – with guidance from a Physiotherapist. 

Generally, initial S&C will be upper body/trunk focused alongside building aerobic capacity with off feet conditioning work.

Once the athlete moves into phase 2 of the rehab, whereby focus is on neuromuscular control and strength, lower limb exercises can be incorporated into the strength and conditioning program.

What Is the Benefit of Doing Strength and Conditioning During ACL-R Rehab?

With ACL-R recovery typically takes athletes out of their sport for up to 12 months, we want to minimise the amount of muscle atrophy and aerobic deconditioning that can happen with this prolonged time off sport.

Under the guidance of a Sports Physiotherapist, the knee itself is generally well looked after during ACL-R rehab. But what about the other knee and the trunk?

A well developed program throughout the rehab process looking at all areas of the body is crucial in maximising an athletes readiness to return to sport when they reach the criteria to do so.

The earlier strength training can be commenced, the more muscle we can preserve in both the injured and uninjured limb.

Lower limb strength symmetry is a key factor in progressing throughout ACL-R rehab and with the addition of Part F in the Melbourne ACL guide, highlights the importance of building strength, endurance, power, and aerobic/anaerobic fitness so that limb symmetry can be maintained when in a fatigued state. This is fundamental in ensuring a safe return to sport, with reduced risk of re-injury alongside athlete enhancing confidence. 

Want To Know More

If you have injured your ACL or would like to know more about Physio, Rehab or Strength Training in general, we’d recommend booking a session with one of our team, such as Bec Beuk who wrote this article.

How Do I Book An Appointment with Precision Athletica for Help?

We’re taking the health of our clients, members and staff very seriously and our preference would be for you to call to book an appointment so that we can make sure to explain our approach to keeping you safe. You can call our bookings team to schedule a session:

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