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The Curovate app's range of motion measurement feature is easy to use and helps to optimize your knee replacement, hip replacement, or ACL rehab journey!

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ACL surgery, or any surgery for that matter, can be a scary thing. As much as the surgery is necessary to help you get back to doing all the things you love, it can be very intimidating and distressing to put your life on hold and struggle temporarily with many activities that used to be easy. In this blog, I am going to provide 5 tips to help you achieve your goals after ACL surgery and optimize your recovery!

Some of the most common and important rehabilitation goals after surgery include regaining full extension of your knee (knee straightening), decreasing swelling, strengthening your quadriceps muscles (the muscles on the front of your thigh that help to extend your knee).[6] In order to achieve these goals, it is important to follow a rehabilitation protocol that is challenging and is specific to your own strength and stage of healing after surgery.[6]

Get help from a qualified rehabilitation professional - and try your best with rehab exercises!

After your surgery, your surgeon will give you a prescription referring you to physical therapy. Your physical therapist will provide you with a rehab plan, including strengthening exercises, stretches, as well as education about how much exercise is appropriate throughout the healing process. For the first few days, most exercises will likely involve moving your knee with assistance and independently, these are called passive or active range of motion exercises, walking, and practicing contracting your quadriceps muscles.[3] As you progress and heal, your physical therapist will likely increase the difficulty of your exercises to help you get back to doing the things you love! Ultimately, physical therapy works best when you are putting in your best effort - for some tips on fitting rehab exercises into your daily schedule click here.

Rest when you need it!

After surgery, it is important to challenge yourself. However, it is equally important that you take adequate rest to let your body heal.[1] Elevating your leg while resting in the first few days after surgery can help to reduce swelling in your knee.[1] It is great that you are passionate about your recovery journey and motivated to complete your rehab exercises, but it is equally important that you let your body have the time it needs to heal.[1] If you notice that your pain or swelling are increasing after your exercises, you may be doing them too much or they may be too challenging. Let your physical therapist know and they will adjust your program while keeping in mind your stage of recovery and your goals.

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Be patient with your return to play

It may be tempting to return to sports or other activities as soon as your pain is under control; however, you are at a very high risk of reinjuring your ACL if you return to sport too early.[4] For this reason, it is important that you wait until after you are cleared by your surgeon or physical therapist to return to play.[6] This process will often BEGINS when all swelling in the joint is gone and full range of motion is available at the joint.[6] At this point, your physical therapist may begin incorporating more sport-specific exercises that will help you improve the strength, stability, balance abilities and motor planning for your knee.

Watch out for signs of infection to keep your rehab journey on track

It is normal for your incisions to be red or swollen at first after surgery. It is, however, important that you watch out for signs of infection after surgery, as an infection at the surgical site can lead to complications that may lengthen your recovery process. Some common signs of an infection include increased redness, fever, new pain, warmth, or swelling located directly around the incision site.[5] Click here to read more about common complications after surgery.

Remember that everyone’s journey is different!

One of the most challenging but also rewarding parts of your surgical journey may be the fact that recovery is different for every individual. Each of our bodies respond differently to surgery, and as such, it is important to be patient, listen to your body, and follow recommendations from your rehab team. While it may be a big challenge, this recovery journey will help you build resilience and get back to doing what you love. Resilience involves an adaptation following a challenge or trauma that helps you develop better coping mechanisms.[2] This resilience will help you not only in your surgical recovery, but also in your ability to maintain optimism, focus on your strengths, and develop positive relationships with others.[2] So if things get tough during recovery, and let’s hope things don't!, remember that this is just a small part of your journey and to keep working toward your goals and getting back to doing what you love!


For a structured rehabilitation plan after an ACL injury or surgery download the Curovate app! The app features video guided exercises, rehab exercise reminders, progress tracking, the abiity to measure your knee range of motion with your phone and more for ACL injury or surgery , knee replacement, and hip replacement recovery. Click on the links below!

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1. Alberta Health. Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: What to Expect at Home.

2. Babić R, Babić M, Rastović P, et al. Resilience in Health and Illness. Psychiatr Danub. 2020;32(Suppl 2):226-232.

3. Cavanaugh JT, Powers M. ACL Rehabilitation Progression: Where Are We Now?. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2017;10(3):289-296. doi:10.1007/s12178-017-9426-3

4. Grindem H, Snyder-Mackler L, Moksnes H, et al. Simple decision rules can reduce reinjury risk by 84% after ACL reconstruction: the Delaware-Oslo ACL cohort studyBritish Journal of Sports Medicine 2016;50:804-808.

5. Hopkins Medicine. Surgical Site Infections.

6. Myklebust G & Bahr R. (2005). Return to play guidelines after anterior cruciate ligament surgery. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 39(3): 127-131.