ACL Surgery Preparation: Exercises, Nutrition, and Revolutionary Techniques

ACL Surgery Preparation: Exercises, Nutrition, and Revolutionary Techniques


Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries are not only prevalent among athletes but are also a major concern due to their impact on mobility and lifestyle. As medical science advances, the focus has shifted not just to surgical solutions but also to enhancing recovery outcomes through Pre-Habilitation. This guide explores the critical role of Pre-Habilitation in preparing patients for ACL surgery, detailing exercises, nutritional advice, and the integration of the latest surgical techniques like STARR and BEAR for superior results.

Understanding ACL and Pre-Habilitation

The ACL is a key ligament in the knee, stabilising the joint by preventing excessive forward movement of the tibia. When this ligament is injured, it can lead to pain, instability, and long-term knee problems. Pre-habilitation refers to a tailored exercise and educational program undertaken before surgery. Its goal is to strengthen the muscles around the knee and improve overall joint function, which can lead to a faster and more effective recovery post-surgery.

Pre-Habilitation Techniques: A Week Before Surgery

In the critical week leading up to ACL reconstruction, specific exercises and nutritional strategies are pivotal:

  1. Exercises to Enhance muscle strength and Flexibility:

    • Quad Sets: Tighten the thigh muscle with the knee straight and hold for 10 seconds.
    • Straight Leg Raises: Lift the leg with a straight knee and hold the position briefly.
    • Heel Slides: Bend the knee slowly by sliding the heel towards the buttocks.
    • Hip Abduction: Slide the leg sideways while keeping it straight and then bring it back.
    • Bridge: Lift the hips off the ground to form a straight line from the knees to the shoulders.
  2. nutritional Guidance:

    • Protein-Rich Diet: Ensures muscle tissue repair. Include lean meats, fish, eggs, and legumes.
    • Anti-Inflammatory Foods: Help reduce swelling; include turmeric, berries, nuts, and green leafy vegetables.
    • Hydration: Maintain optimal fluid levels to support cellular health and cushion joints.

Innovative Surgical Techniques: STARR and BEAR

Advances in surgical techniques significantly enhance recovery prospects post-ACL reconstruction. The Soft Tissue Augmented Regenerative Repair (STARR) and Bridge-Enhanced ACL Repair (BEAR) techniques offer minimally invasive solutions with faster recovery times and reduced pain compared to traditional methods.

STARR Technique: Utilizes a biocompatible scaffold integrated with the patient's own cells to regenerate the ACL, maintaining the knee's natural mechanics.

BEAR Technique: Employs a scaffold that enhances natural healing by bridging the gap in the torn ACL, relying on the body's healing mechanisms.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the benefits of pre-habilitation for ACL surgery? Pre-hab strengthens the muscles around the knee, reduces surgery risks, and speeds up recovery.
  2. How can nutrition impact ACL surgery recovery? Proper nutrition reduces inflammation, supports tissue repair, and boosts overall recovery speed.
  3. What makes the ST ARR and BEAR techniques different from traditional ACL surgery? Both techniques focus on regeneration using minimal invasion and enhance the natural healing process, offering quicker rehabilitation.
  4. Can I engage in sports after ACL reconstruction? Yes, but a gradual return is recommended post-recovery and clearance from your orthopaedic surgeon.
  5. Are there any risks associated with the new ACL techniques? While generally safer, all surgical procedures carry some risk such as infection or complications from anaesthesia.
  6. How long before I can return to normal activities? Depending on the surgical technique and personal recovery, typically between 6 to 12 months.


Understanding the anatomy of the ACL, the benefits of Pre-Habilitation, and the advances in surgical techniques empowers patients to make informed decisions about their treatment options. At MSK Doctors, we are dedicated to leveraging cutting-edge practices to ensure our patients not only recover but thrive post-ACL reconstruction.