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Why Plyometrics are Essential to Your ACL Rehab

acl aclr atlanta decatur dr. mike knee pain physical therapy plyometrics rehab May 09, 2024

Merriam-Webster - Plyometrics: exercise involving repeated rapid stretching and contracting of muscles (as by jumping and rebounding) to increase muscle power. 


An essential part of not only athletic capacity but general physical function, plyometrics have a role to play in everyone's life. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been treating someone after ACLR and they become hesitant or uninterested when plyos come into play. I often hear, “I never jumped before I hurt my knee so I don’t see why I need to be good at it now.” While this is a fair opinion, the role of plyos is misconstrued. 


After ACLR specifically, significant atrophy and loss and motion occurs, and combatting this effect becomes the primary focus of early-stage rehab. Fast forward to a strong quad, strong calf, strong hamstrings, strong glutes, low pain, and a stable leg, we’re ready to jump and land. As an athlete, restoring your jumping, landing, change of direction, and explosiveness is a no-brainer if you want to perform at pre-injury levels. Side note - If your rehab does not progress into explosive power-based exercise, find a new PT!


Explosive doesn’t just mean jumping high or moving fast, it also encompasses your braking ability. Can you oppose the forces placed on your body from the ground and do it fast? How fast can you decelerate to change direction or move athletically? That’s also explosive and arguably more important when speaking on injury risk and performance. 


Once a good plyometric base has been established, the focus shifts toward sports or function-specific activities. Without addressing hypertrophy, strength, power, and endurance, getting to this point in the rehab process becomes very challenging. These qualities will vary as they are specific to each individual but speaking in general terms, they are a must for restoring athletic performance.  


What about someone who doesn’t play sports? Why is it important to restore power and braking ability? Longevity. As we go through the decades of life we begin to lose muscle mass. Loss of muscle mass is directly related to a loss of strength and power. The best way to combat these age-related changes is to train these exact aspects of movement. As someone with kids, you will likely want to maintain the ability to play with them in the yard, maybe go on hikes, or even help them train for their sport! If you train in the gym or are a runner, you also need to restore power. (Running is essentially a series of single-leg hops and lands). Fast forward even further into adulthood and we begin to consider things like fall risk. Being able to jump down from a height, step down from a step stool, or produce enough deceleration force when off balance are all essential to reducing falls. If you never restored that ability way back when you had ACLR, you likely won’t have it later when you really need it.


We all understand the importance of investing for the future financially. Consider exercise as your investment for your physical future! 


If you or someone you know is seeking guidance after ACLR, call us at 470-355-2106 or fill out the contact form in the link below. 


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Thanks for reading,

Dr. Mike, PT, DPT, CSCS, PES 

Let us help you figure out to live your best active life today! 

 Remember, Movement is Medicine! 

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