The Best Upper Body Workout After ACL Surgery

Upper Body Workout After ACL Surgery

Before participating in any upper body workout after ACL surgery, get clearance from your orthopedist or physical therapist.

It is not uncommon for orthopedic surgeons to prohibit any upper body workout after ACL surgery due to the potential of graft damage.

The bulk of upper body exercises utilizes the lower body in some capacity; for stabilization or leg drive.

Using your leg in a way it has not reacclimated to handle can put you at risk of damaging the graft.

Due to the biological processes that make ACL reconstruction possible, the replacement graft is at its weakest during the 7-12 week post-surgery period.

Also known as proliferation, this stage of ACL reconstruction is the most susceptible to re-injury. The first stage of ACL regeneration post-surgery (‘Cell Death’ or necrosis) left a scaffolding of nonliving tissue for the new ligament to use as a foundation to grow.

Compared to a healthy, well-developed ligament, this scaffolding is quite brittle.

It may be most beneficial to wait until the newly-forming ligament has gained adequate structural integrity, which usually takes around 12 weeks, depending on multiple variables.

If you have gotten clearance from your healthcare professional(s), consider including upper body workouts that use minimal (if any) amounts of leg drive.

Open-kinetic-chain isometric exercises best suit these criteria. Using machines instead of free weights helps remove the legs from upper body movements safely and effectively.

Sample Upper Body Workout After ACL Surgery

Recommended Rep Ranges

Push Day Workout After ACL Surgery

Pull Day Workout After ACL Surgery

Upper Body Workout After ACL Surgery

Cardio Workout After ACL Surgery

Initially, finding ways to do cardio after ACL surgery can be difficult. As you heal and grow durable, more options for cardiorespiratory activities will become available.

Make sure to get the okay from your healthcare providers before attempting any new exercises.

Below are a few examples of how you could reboot your cardiovascular fitness.

Upper Body Workout With Torn ACL

For those opting not to get ACL surgery or are in the waiting phase before ACL surgery, there are some considerations for upper body workouts.

First, it is helpful to understand the anatomical impact of losing your ACL.

The ACL prevents the femur from sliding behind the tibia. Without an ACL, the meniscus receives much more stress, which can cause pain within the knee joint and usually results in osteoarthritis.

Physical therapy is a good idea for someone deciding against ACL reconstruction surgery.

To prevent cartilage damage, consider exercises that use minimal amounts of leg drive.

Sample Upper Body Workout With Torn ACL

Recommended Rep Ranges

Push Day Workout With Torn ACL

Pull Day Workout With Torn ACL

ACL Rehab Exercises

In addition to upper body workouts, rehab exercises are vital to successful ACL recovery.

Generally speaking, the more effort you put into rehab, the stronger and quicker you will heal.

Weeks 1-2 (Post-OP)

Weeks 3-6 (Rehab Begins)

Weeks 7-12 (Continued Strengthening)

Weeks 13-16 (Advanced Strengthening)

Weeks 20+ (Sport-Specific Rehab)

Best Diet For ACL Recovery

Diet has a significant impact on ACL recovery for more than one reason.

First, consuming enough essential nutrients needed for muscle growth is necessary for building back leg muscle.

Another component of ACL recovery that diet significantly impacts is inflammation.

Throughout the ACL recovery process, lessening inflammation within the knee is a continuous goal. 

Avoiding certain foods can significantly improve inflammation levels.

Foods That Cause Inflammation

Foods That Are Anti-Inflammatory

Best Diet For ACL Recovery

Sticking to anti-inflammatory foods and avoiding food that causes inflammation will make for a more effective ACL recovery.

R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) is another effective anti-inflammatory method.

How To Lose Weight With Torn ACL

The principle of weight loss does not change with injury or surgery.

To lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit, which means that you expend more energy during the day than you are consuming.

Although, ACL surgery makes aspects of caloric deficit more challenging.

Consuming an adequate amount of protein and opting for complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbohydrates will make you feel fuller with a lesser caloric intake.

As soon as you are cleared to do so, reincorporating physical activity into your routine will help increase caloric expenditure.

Increasing caloric expenditure and decreasing caloric intake are both factors that will help you lose weight, even with a torn ACL.

How To Tell If You Tore Your ACL

If you think you may have seriously injured your knee joint, go to the emergency room and meet with an orthopedic specialist ASAP.

To delve deeper into this topic, click here.

Upper Body Workout After ACL Surgery
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