ACL Surgery Exercises

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery exercises have the goal of reducing your knee swelling, regaining a full range of motion to your knee, and restoring your knee’s balance. They also are designed to strengthen your leg muscles in order to both help you live a functioning lifestyle as well as preventing your chances of future injury.

Muscle Stretching Exercises

Strengthen your quadriceps. One of the most common ACL surgery exercises involves strengthening your quadriceps since this major muscle group helps with the movement of your knee and can provide your knee with stability. Isometrics can be done immediately after ACL surgery and provide a way to strengthen your leg muscles. According to the University of Minnesota Sports Medicine Institute, while sitting on a flat surface, sofa or bed, tighten your thigh muscles (quadriceps). Hold. Relax for three seconds. Repeat. Do 30 repetitions, three to five times daily.

Do straight leg raises. Lay on your back, tighten your thigh muscles. Lift your affected leg and hold. Keep your knee as straight as possible. Return to original position. Relax. Repeat. states you need to do this exercise at least five times daily. This exercise is an advanced isometric exercise involving strengthening your quadriceps.

Strengthen your buttocks. While either lying down or sitting up, tighten your buttocks muscles. Hold for five seconds. Relax. Repeat. Do this throughout the day.

Do hamstring strengthening. Sit in a wheel-based chair similar to those found in an office. Pull yourself around the room using your ACL surgery leg. Start doing this exercise on a linoleum surface. As you progress, do it on a carpeted surface, states

Muscle Stretching Exercises

Do ankle pumps. While lying flat, keep your foot on the surface. The University of Minnesota Sports Medicine Institute recommends you pull your toes towards your knees. Hold. Return your foot and point your toes away from your knee. Keep pumping your ankle. Do this periodically throughout the day. This keeps your blood circulating and decreases your chances of forming blood clots. It also stretches your hamstrings.

Do a hamstring stretch. Sit on a comfortable, flat surface. Extend your legs in front of you. Keep your knees as straight as possible. Lean your torso towards your toes. Keep your back straight as you slowly bend forward. Bend until you feel your hamstring stretch. Hold. You may want to hold onto your feet to increase the stretch.

Do a quadriceps stretch. While standing, hold onto the back of a firm chair. Lift your ACL leg so that you attempt to touch your butt. According to, use one hand to grab a hold of your ankle. Gently and slowly pull on your ankle until you feel your thigh muscle stretch. Hold. Return to original position. Repeat.

Stationary Bicycle

Use an exercise bike. According to Robert F. LaPrade, MD of the University of Minnesota Sports Medicine Institute, riding a stationary bike as an ACL surgery exercise can help you regain use of your leg muscles. Begin slowly with no resistance. As you progress, increase both your duration and resistance level.

ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery exercises have the goal of reducing your knee swelling