Cruciate ligament rupture - functional rehabilitation

Cruciate ligament rupture - and now?

It happened and the horror diagnosis is there. Cruciate ligament rupture. Whether you are a competitive athlete or an office athlete, this is one of the most serious injuries you can suffer. It will catch up with you every day for several months. I have met many athletes who struggle with follow-up problems even years after surgery. In my opinion, inadequate rehab and aftercare are often to blame. That is why this article is very important to me. I address the most important points that will hopefully enable you to go through rehab quickly and effectively. I'll give you an exclusive look at the post-operative treatment of an athlete after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament.

functional rehab after a cruciate ligament rupture.


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In the video, you can see the progression of healing based on progressively increasing load. This athlete is an American football player whose main profession is student. In fact, this athlete was about to be called up to the German team when the injury happened. It could hardly have been more tragic. Therefore, I was given the opportunity to work with him with the goal of bringing him to an appropriate level of performance as quickly as possible but in a health-oriented manner. The video was made in 2016 with the athlete's consent. You see the rehabilitation and training in a summary of several weeks after a cruciate ligament rupture. so you get an idea of how targeted, functional training and therapy can look like in application. Many of the movements are already football specific even during rehabilitation. This is extremely important for any competitive athlete! So now I come to my points that are critical for your rehab.

1. prevent injuries!

There's no guarantee you won't get hurt. But you can do your share. And that share, in my opinion, is substantial! I see the same compensation patterns over and over again in my practice. These arise from our sedentary or one-sided stressful daily lives. Therefore, your daily task is to counteract them. With stretching, movement exercises or special training exercises. If you don't do this, you will accept injuries. The knee is a joint that has hardly any mobility in the frontal and transverse plane. The ankle joint below it and the hip joint above it, however, do. If these two direct neighbors no longer absorb movements and thus loads, or absorb them too little, the knee joint will be overloaded.

2. find the best support!

If you are unfortunate enough to have suffered a torn cruciate ligament, I can give you the following advice: Get professional support and advice! I myself am present during the operation in consultation with the surgeon. Not only because I am personally interested in the matter of anatomy, but rather in order to begin with the first interventions directly after the operation in the case of cruciate ligament rehabilitation. These are of course minimal and very gentle. But they are necessary. I often get feedback that patients have rested for 2-3 weeks after surgery. No movement and possibly even stiffened up with a splint. But it is exactly these 2-3 weeks that are crucial. I like to start very early to re-educate the knee motor system to the extensor mechanism. This is done as you see in the video without an upbeat movement and without putting body weight on the leg.

3. be consistent!

Of course, this is not only true during your rehab, but before and after as well. As an example, one of my clients had sustained an injury. In this case it was his shoulder. Because of this injury, he wanted to cancel training. My question was: Because the shoulder hurts, you can't move any other joint? The excuse was quickly debunked and he continued to come to training regularly. Over the next few weeks, we were able to gradually reintegrate his shoulder into movements. My point is: an injury, as severe as it may be, will always keep you from certain movements. But never from all of them. This is one of the reasons why it is so important to have professional help, with the experience to give you the right prescription.

4. trust your therapist!

Whether it's a physiotherapist, osteopath or sports scientist. The team you choose for your rehab will help you. All the tips and homework I give my clients are worth nothing if they are not followed. Therefore, carry out the instructions of the people you trust. And do it consistently! You need your own personal trainer or therapist. Constantly changing team members or 20 minute sessions are far from sufficient and have nothing to do with professionalism.

5. do not Google too much!

And don't get a second opinion on Yahoo either. Go with your gut and logical common sense. Do you feel comfortable with your doctor or therapist? Do you feel understood and in good hands? From my experience, a therapist who puts you in exercise machines for rehab often does not have high level functional training. Guided movements in exercise machines do not train your movement skills. And that's exactly what you need in your everyday life or sport to minimize the risk of injury in the long run. It is also not exclusively about becoming pain free. I want your rehab to train your whole body. Movement patterns are our key to success, not just pain therapy for the injured body part.

Analyze your habits.

In most cases, injuries that occur without external influence have their cause in another part of the body. Often caused by our everyday life. Besides sitting at a desk or driving a vehicle, you also have to think about habits like walking the dog or carrying a handbag. In most cases, these and similar activities are always done with the same side. Over a long period of time, this can promote discomfort and injury. Adequate sleep and a healthy diet, without going into too much depth, are at least half the battle in keeping you healthy!


It is not possible to give specific health-oriented advice for an effective rehab without a differentiated consideration of the individual case. My recommendation is therefore: Inform yourself in advance about the doctor/operator and therapist/trainer. Ask your questions and clarify -very important- the course of your rehab measures. Avoid package deals or 0815 treatments and reserve your regular appointments and consultations with your support staff.

Your Patrick Herzog

Patrick Herzog Functional Therapist Personal Trainer |

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