The Role of Cardio Exercises in Rehab
Low-impact cardiovascular exercises are essential to knee rehabilitation, offering numerous benefits for a successful recovery. Especially in the first phase of rehab, activities like walking, cycling, and swimming can improve blood circulation, release endorphins and enhance joint lubrication. These exercises also increase muscle tone and range of motion, as well as improve cardiovascular health all while being gentle on the body (compared to jogging, which one should start only in the later phases of rehab).
Remember to work closely with your healthcare professionals to create a safe and effective exercise plan tailored to your unique needs and goals. With dedication and proper guidance, you can achieve a successful and sustainable recovery from your injury.Tailored Training
I am very thankful to have met highly skilled rehabilitation coaches in my city (Frankfurt, Germany). With their guidance, I found a clear path after my relapse in February and gained knowledge, strength, and confidence in my injured leg again. My training program was based on the Melbourne ACL Recovery Guide
. There are many phases in the guide, but my rehab is currently based on 3 phases
1. Gain balance and control: single-leg squats and foot balances. The phase ended with a passed Y-Balance Test.
2. Jumps and hops: by training with heavier weights I moved on to start Jumping onto both legs and later single-leg jumps. Here there are 2 test factors - shape and stability, and then how far you can jump (should be not less than 90% of your healthy leg results to pass).
3. Lateral jumps: currently I am in this phase and am learning to trust myself and gain speed in single-leg lateral hops. To pass this phase I need to jump at least 60 times in 30 sec. over a 40 cm square. As well as train jumps that turn - but this has been very easy for me, as my dance training helps me with great body control.
After I will complete the program, I have to continue training in order to keep my knee strong and prevent future injuries. So this is just a beginning of a lifelong journey. The Impact of Strength Training on Knee Recovery
Strength training with weight played a crucial role in my recovery and rehabilitation. To stabilize the knee, you have to focus on strengthening the different muscles around the knee joint including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. When all muscles surrounding the knee are strong, this will help you prevent future injuries, improve stability and control, enhance range of motion, as well as contribute to increase joint strength, flexibility, and bone density. When the muscles are well-developed, they can better absorb impact and shocks during movement, protecting the knee from excessive stress.
In my training at the gym, after warming up for 5 min on the bicycle, I focus on different exercises with my own body weight and with added weight on the machines, as well as different moves on the Fitness and Bosu-ball.With additional weights
, I do leg presses, squats, Bulgarian split squats, leg extensions (when you straighten the knee), leg curls, standing scale, single-leg calf raises In standing and sitting, and hip thrusts. It is recommended to do 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions, so that's a way to help you find the correct weight. Start out with low or no weight, and then build up slowly. My physio coach said that building up to Leg Press 1.5 times my body weight with my injured leg is a good goal to prevent injuries and have stability.With my own weight
, I do tibial raises, different lunges, and variations of glute bridges on the floor as well as on the Fitness Ball (to feel the burn even more :) ). On the Bosu Ball I play around with different exercises like standing scale (playing with speed), single leg raises, and Ronds (for ballet).
I also jump without added weight: in the second rehabilitation phase, I trained jumping forward with both legs, then single legs. This was followed by side (lateral) jumps in the third phase of my program.
My build-up hasn't been linear, but I keep a score of how much weight and reps I do, so I can track and see where I'm at. Make sure to adjust to life events, and be cautious when you come back after a few weeks off. From my experience, it's always better to pace yourself and aim for the long run.
Listen to your body and learn to slowly trust your knee and yourself again.