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Overcoming The Fear Of Working Out After An ACL Injury

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Recovering from ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) surgery can be a long and challenging journey. If you’ve experienced an ACL injury, you know the fear of working out after surgery. In this blog, we’ll explore how to overcome that fear and get back to your routine confidently.

Steps Involved in ACL Injury Rehabilitation

Recovering from an ACL injury involves several key steps:

  1. Consultation: Begin with a consultation from a physiotherapy specialist or an orthopedic doctor.
  2. Physiotherapy: Engage in ACL injury physiotherapy sessions tailored to your needs.
  3. Return to Activities: Gradually return to the activities you love after completing efficient ACL rehabilitation.

These steps are essential for healing, requiring both physical and mental strength. Remember, it's normal to feel afraid, but you're not alone. With the right support, you can get back to your normal life.

It’s OKAY to be afraid

First, acknowledge the fear you’re experiencing. Fear of re-injury, pain, or not performing at your previous level can be significant barriers in ACL injury rehabilitation. Recognize that these feelings are normal and common after major surgeries.

Here are some ways to overcome this fear:

Educate yourself

Knowledge is power. Learn more about your ACL injury, the surgical procedure, and the rehabilitation process. Understanding what to expect can reduce the fear of the unknown. Connect with a certified physiotherapist to learn the proper exercises and techniques for rehabilitation. The more you know, the less you’ll fear.

Gradual Progression

It's crucial to gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workout sessions. Don’t expect to jump into intense exercises right away. The process is slow, and ACL injury recovery time is longer than you think. Start with basic exercises and slowly progress to more challenging ones as your strength and confidence build. This gradual approach helps prevent re-injury and ensures a smoother recovery.

Visualise & Meditate

Visualising yourself doing rehabilitation exercises can boost your confidence in your workout plan. Spend a few minutes each day imagining yourself completing workouts without pain or injury. Practices like mindfulness and meditation help reduce anxiety and improve focus. This helps you stay present and not dwell on fears of re-injury.

Prepare for setbacks

Recovery is rarely a straight path. Some days you'll progress, and other days may be tough. Accepting setbacks will help you stay focused and positive. Track your progress, and set up a reward system for reaching milestones in your recovery journey. Celebrate moments like increased range of motion or reduced pain levels. Recognizing and celebrating these achievements keeps you motivated and encourages continued effort in your rehabilitation.

Heroes: How they overcame their fear

Here are three client stories that may inspire you to overcome your fear of working out after an ACL injury.

Glen

In 2021, Glen suffered a right ACL and meniscus tear while playing football. He underwent ACL surgery using semitendinosus and gracilis grafts in March 2021. Post-rehab, he struggled with confidence due to gaps in rehabilitation. In 2023, he faced another setback with a left ACL tear, leading to another reconstruction in July 2023, followed by sporadic physiotherapy.

In March 2024, Glen joined Granimals, struggling with knee flexion deficits, reduced quadriceps bulk, and poor strength. His dedication to rehab paid off as his flexion increased, strength improved, and his quadriceps bulk returned. Glen’s commitment to targeted exercises led to significant improvements. He regained strength and incorporated single-leg squats into his routine. Returning to the gym, he focused on low-impact exercises initially, then gradually added more challenging exercises. This included heavy leg extension, single-leg squats, and lunges to enhance stability and strength.

Glen’s hard work paid off as he reached the milestone of jogging without pain, boosting his confidence and determination. Today, Glen is progressing towards advanced rehab and is preparing for plyometric training before returning to football. His journey is a testament to resilience, showcasing both physical and mental strength.

Uday

Uday’s life took a U-turn with a right Grade 3 ACL tear. For a football fanatic like him, this was devastating. Refusing to let the setback define him, Uday embarked on an inspiring recovery journey.

In December, Uday sustained a full-thickness tear in his right ACL and medial meniscus. After consulting with his medical team, he underwent ACL surgery on February 13, 2023, with a hamstring graft and joined Granimals for rehabilitation.

In February 2024, post-surgery, Uday joined Granimals. Despite challenges, he remained determined and committed. Each session improved his knee flexion, strength, and quadriceps bulk. Squats, once impossible, became routine, showcasing his progress. With his physical therapist, Uday started with low-impact exercises and gradually incorporated more challenging ones.

Today, Uday is advancing towards single-leg strength training and plyometrics. His journey highlights both physical and mental strength, reminding us that with perseverance and determination, anything is possible.

Pragati

Pragati’s life took a hit when she suffered a partial tear in her left ACL, medial patellofemoral ligament, and medial meniscus. As a dancer and fitness enthusiast, she faced her adversities head-on, determined to dance again.

Her injury occurred while dancing. Initially, she didn’t feel the pain, but it became evident as she walked. Swelling developed the next day, and an MRI confirmed the extent of her injury. She underwent PRP treatment, which reduced her pain, but it resurfaced when she returned to dancing, causing a limp.

In January, Pragati joined Granimals with knee pain, limited flexion, and a limp. After a thorough assessment, she began her rehab journey with daily workouts and weekly goals. Pragati made noticeable progress, regaining her ability to perform daily activities and walking confidently. Her lower body muscle bulk improved through focused exercises, and she rebuilt her knee strength with squats and lunges.

Now, Pragati is progressing towards advanced rehab, preparing for single-leg strength training and plyometrics. Her journey highlights her physical recovery and the mental strength she developed. As she looks forward to dancing again, Pragati stands as an inspiration to us all. Stay tuned to witness her progress through advanced rehab and her return to dancing.

 Fear is a state of mind. You can choose to be afraid or face challenges head-on. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey. Together, we can achieve great things. Keep pushing forward, stay committed, and trust in the process. You've got this!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1- What to avoid during ACL Injury rehabilitation? 

Answer- Here are a few things that you must avoid during the ACL injury Rehabilitation process- 

  • Avoid heavy-duty/ high impact activities during the initial days
  • Do not neglect to rest, it is important to rest well during rehabilitation
  • Do not skip therapy sessions, staying consistent is key to getting better soon
  • Lack of patience can backfire 
  • Avoid improper warm-ups

Q2- What foods help heal ACLs?

Answer- Fruits like avocados, olives, nuts, and seeds boost muscle strength and can prove to be beneficial to help heal ACLs. 

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