Tips to manage the year long (+) process of ACLR rehab
ACLR Rehab is time consuming and tedious. It will challenge you mentally and physically – so make sure it is worth it.
Tracking your workouts
Use technology – I use my apple watch so I can see how many days a week/month I have completed my workouts
- The downside to this is that all the workouts are tracked, meaning if I do a walk it counts or if I do a long distance run or a weight training session, so it doesn’t differentiate between your rehab and activity
Use Strava to track your running distances and how you feel – if you need to keep it on private because you feel yourself getting pulled into the comparison game, then do it!
- I think it is so helpful being able to see month after month how your pace might increase, how your RPE (rate of perceived exertion) decreases and how you can increase your distance. You can also write little notes on how your knee specifically felt to keep track
Print out your weight training workouts to track your load
- I have used just an excel spreadsheet for myself and clients just to be able to write down the LBS or KGs I use with dumbbells or barbell. A steady increase is key for strength.
- Once you get into power exercises, you’ll likely decrease the load a small amount to be able to move the weight faster
Taking breaks and periodizing your training
You don’t have to get too technical in terms of periodization, but what I want you to think of is tapering week and full breaks. ACLR rehab is at least 12 months, but in reality and in my physio/personal opinion, it should be explained that it is 2 years. Feeling “normal” and performing at your best are very differernt things, but regardless, stopping your training short at 12 months because you ‘feel fine’ is doing yourself a disservice.
- Talk to your physio about taking tapering weeks as you change blocks
- Talk to your physio about having full weeks off – espeically during vacation or at the 6 month mark, the 9 month mark and the 12 month mark
- Use this time to do whatever you feel like doing (within your functional ability and clearance). I found this extremely helpful to be able to come back to the next block of training fully ready to go
Something is better than nothing
- Get rid of the all or nothing mindset. The name of the game in ACLR rehab is conistency, you are always trying to get 1% better
- If you aren’t feeling up to the full workout then pick out the non-negotiables with your physio – these will likely be knee extensions, calf and hamstring strength, and hip strength throughout the program. Then depending on your sport it will likely involve deceleration exercises and plyometric exercise to get ready for change of direction. Then moving into late stage ACLR rehab, it may be more sport specific stuff.
- Quads will always be important so doing knee extensions is very important
- Hamstrings, after a hamstring autograft, can take 2-5 years to get back to the full strength. Work your way up to nordics and keep those in your training