More than 400,000 ACL injuries occur every year in the United States, especially among athletes and active people. (the University of Michigan Health, n.d.) ACL means anterior cruciate ligament, one of the four main ligaments of the knee. Women have 2 to 8 times more chances to tear an ACL than men because of anatomical differences and weakness of the muscles that support the knee. (Cluett, 2020)
It’s a great challenge for you to stay fit when you have a knee injury or torn ACL. Because if you engage in vigorous cardio exercises like running, jumping, etc., that can cause pain or damage your knees. Read this article to learn the right cardio exercises with torn ACL that will be good for your injured knees.
The Effective 5 Cardio Exercises With Torn ACL
Cardio exercises get the heart rate up, expand blood vessels to bring more oxygen, and release endorphins called natural painkillers. The advantages of this type of exercise are seemingly endless, but not all cardio workouts will be suitable for you when you have torn ACL.
Only low-impact exercises can be helpful that puts less stress on the knee and strengthen the muscles surrounding your ACL. Moreover, some studies have reported that you can minimize the chance of ACL injury by as high as 90 percent by doing exercises regularly. Now we will describe five cardio exercises that will be beneficial with nonsurgical treatment of ACL injury and before and after ACL surgery.
Swimming is an excellent form of cardio exercise for many reasons, including
- Provides low impact workouts
- Help to burn a lot of calories
- Manage excessive weight
- Increase endurance etc.
Moreover, swimming regularly can reduce ACL pain and strengthen the support around your knee joint. The temperature soothes your ACL pain if it’s possible to swim in warm water.
Enter the swimming pool steadily and safely because the steps to go down may be slippery. Remember to stay hydrated, swim gently, and always pay attention to your body’s response.
You can do pilates with knee pain or ACL injury because it is a low-impact exercise. Moreover, pilates has numerous health benefits, including:
- Weight loss
- Toning the waist
- Improve your balance
- Reduce the risk of falling
- Decreasing abdomen and hip circumference
According to the instructions of the National Health Service of the UK, the pilates exercise will be suitable for people with knee problems. (National Health Service of UK, 2019) But you may need a pilates exercise training or joining the class to do it perfectly.
3. Heel Slides
Heel slides are not a cardio exercise, but it’s perfect for torn ACL. Heel slide is a simple leg exercise that extends the knee without bearing any weight. This exercise can increase the range of motion and strengthen the tissues around your knee. Heel slides may be helpful for the recovery process of torn ACL and prevent further ACL injuries.
There are several ways to do heel slide exercises, but you should do one which will be comfortable for you or depends on your needs. An excellent way to start heel slides is by sitting on the floor with your legs outstretched. Then slowly bend the injured knee as close to your buttocks as possible. Finally, slide the foot back into the starting position. Repeat it 10 times and practice two times per day to get the best results. But if you feel any pain during these exercises, take a rest and ice your knee several times daily or stop the exercise.
Riding a bicycle is a low impact cardio exercise that helps you to keep active and provide a lot of benefits such as:
- Help to lose weight
- Reduce the risk of heart diseases
- Strengthen your legs
- Improves body balance
Outdoor cycling is a beautiful way to explore your local area and stay healthy. But there are a few downsides to consider, including exposure to ultraviolet rays that can be a cause of skin cancer, and the severe disadvantage is the risk of an accident. A stationary bike can be a helpful tool for cycling at a gym or home. But some health experts suggest staying off the bike when you have any injuries. Here is some good news for you: you can do similar cardio workouts with knee injury using an elliptical machine. (Cronkleton, 2021)
5. Elliptical Workouts
Elliptical machines provide a good form of cardio exercise that never puts a lot of stress on your knees. There are no chances of exacerbating existing knee pain by working with an elliptical machine. Moreover, you will get some tremendous benefits including (Lindberg, 2021)
- Provide low impact exercises that put less stress on your knee joints
- An excellent aerobic workout can build up your heart, lungs, and muscles
- Help to build your endurance and stamina
- Can burn 270 to 400 calories (approx.) in 30 minutes
- Help to lose body fat and reduce excessive weight
- Provide both upper and lower body workouts
- By changing the resistance and incline, you can target different muscles in your lower body
- Most of the elliptical machines provide a variety of pre-programmed exercise routines that mimic hill climbing, interval training, and other customizable options
The great advantage of an elliptical machine is that if you’re nursing an injury, you can participate in your regular physical activities by using an elliptical machine to maintain cardiovascular health.
Avoid These Cardio Exercises With Torn ACL
Doing exercises is essential to stay healthy and to recover from torn ACL. But it would be best to avoid some exercise that compresses or puts a lot of stress on your knee joints. Example:
1. Weight Lifting
Undoubtedly, weight lifting or weight training is a good cardio workout, but if you’re suffering from a torn ACL, this exercise will not suit you. Because when you lift heavy weights, that can put a lot of stress on your knee joints. Moreover, weight lifting can cause repeated injury or increase the existing pain.
When you run outdoors or indoors using a treadmill, that can cause knee pain, especially when you have torn ACL or run with poor form. So, it’s best to avoid running during your recovery period of torn ACL.
Related: Low-impact cardio exercises like walking and utilizing an elliptical machine are among the most popular nowadays. The question is, what are the advantages of utilizing an elliptical machine instead of walking? the Answer.
Jumping puts a lot of stress on your knee joints, which can increase the chance of injury, especially when you have knee problems. So, it’s highly recommended to avoid jumping with torn ACL or knee injury.
Avoid all types of high-impact exercises that put a lot of stress on your knee joints because these can worsen existing paint and may be a cause of repeated injury. Moreover, it would help to avoid those exercises restricted by your physician.
Also Read: If you are experiencing sciatica discomfort, you should refrain from participating in certain activities. Read on to know more about them as well as the best exercises for them.
A Knee Brace Can Be a Blessing for Your Knees
Your doctor may suggest nonsurgical treatment options for mild ACL injury, including using a knee brace and physical therapy. Physical therapy can help you regain range of motion in the knee and strengthen the leg muscles that support your knee joint.
A knee brace can support your knee joint following ACL surgery or mild ACL injury. The purpose of using a knee brace is to stabilize the knee during injury recovery or help to prevent an injury from worsening. You can also use the knee brace to prevent injury if you’re a healthy person, including ACL.
There are many types of knee brace available in the market with lots of designs. You may find your preferable one from this checklist.
You have to do cardio exercises with torn ACL instead of taking too much rest. Because too much rest can weaken your muscles, worsening knee joint pain. If you’re not sure which exercises will be the best for you, I recommend you try an elliptical machine. Otherwise, you can talk with your doctor or a physical therapist.