I am speaking strictly out of personal experience here, and you should most definitely take the advice of your doctor and/or physical therapist over this post…but I am writing what has helped me the most in my “post ACL reconstruction” workouts.
A brief history, I’ve had three knee surgeries for three issues: a left ACL tear, a left bucket-handle meniscus tear, and a right ACL tear. Both ACL reconstructions were done with my own hamstring tendons from the same side leg.
All three surgeries went well, but over the years I can tell (and was later proven through a MRI) that the reconstructed ligament from my earliest surgery had stretched. Because of this I take extra care to understand my workouts and determine which ones work the best at maintain and increasing my stability. The exercises that I find work the best for me and my knees are:
- Two-armed kettlebell swings
- Lunges (light weight, high reps)
- Single legged body squats on BOSU ball
- Hamstring curls
- Razors – kneeling with a partner holding your ankles down as you slowly lower your chest to the ground…i.e., using your hamstrings to slow the motion.
- Hamstring curls – laying on your back and resting Swiss ball under your heels, push your pelvis into the air, and roll the Swiss ball into your glutes.
- Front squats (light weight, high reps)
- Inner/Outer Thigh
- Side leg raises
- Abs – with a focus on planks
(I completely avoid leg extensions at all costs. I wouldn’t even recommend leg extensions to those without knee problems. The sheer tension on your knee throughout this workout puts tremendous stress on vulnerable tendons.)
By completing this list of exercises on my standard leg day, not only do I get a phenomenal workout, but I also have dramatically increased my knee stability. This has been absolutely crucial as I love remaining athletically active, particularly in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.