How To Keep Balanced With Pilates After ACL Surgery

Therapydia Pilates ACL Tear Treament

If you’ve had surgery or suffered a major injury to your ACL, you’ve likely felt immobile as you worked through the recovery process. Your ACL works as a rotational stabilizer for the knee. When you make quick turns or sharp movements, it keeps your knee as stable as possible. Objectives during ACL rehabilitation are to make sure you can fully move your knee through every range of motion. Pilates comes into play as a solution that furthers your ACL recovery. One major component of ACL treatment is to rebuild strength in the muscles that surround your hips and thighs such as your quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Pilates doesn’t put too much stress directly on your injured knee but gives you all the tools to increase strength and flexibility.

Reforming The Knee

Therapydia ACL Injury Treatment

Pilates has different exercise options available depending on how much weight you can put on you knee. Working on a reformer, as opposed to a mat or chair, can help you begin doing Pilates moves much earlier. A reformer is a piece of equipment used in Pilates which looks like a bed with springs, a sliding carriage, and resistance bands. If you’ve had ACL surgery, it allows you to stay horizontal and have lighter resistance on your injured knee as equipment guides you to strengthen the muscles around your knee joint. Common movements on the reformer involve footwork and side-lying movements for your injured knee. You’ll begin correcting any muscles that aren’t aligned in your lower body, which will help your knee recover by keeping it stable as you start walking.

Stabilize Your Knee Joint

Once you start being able to bear more weight on your knee, you have the option of doing some Pilates mat work. Since you’re able to move around a bit easier, you’ll work on continuing to increase the range of motion of your knee that may have started on the reformer. Better alignment throughout your spine and pelvis is key. Instead of just focusing on strengthening your injured knee, you’ll be increasing flexibility around your back, core, and hips as well. Without alignment in those areas, you’ll be putting too much force on your injured knee. All pilates exercises are designed to have built-in postural awareness to improve spinal alignment. You might be able to do an exercise like The Saw to not only stretch the hamstrings but also your abdominals and the muscles of your back. These all work together to promote a more stable knee joint.

Therapydia ACL Injury Treatment

• Sit up straight on your bottom
• Extend your legs in front of you, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart
• Stretch your arms out to the side, palms facing forward
• Inhale and twist to the right, keeping your abdominals and hips steady
• Reach the pinky finger of your front hand across the outside of the opposite foot
• Touch your little toe if you can, but move in that general direction if you can’t
• Once you’ve gone as far as you can, inhale and untwist back to sitting position
• Repeat the same movement on your other side

Retraining your injured knee to have the balance you need after an ACL injury is tricky. That’s why another point of focus is on your hips. A move like Swimming builds a lot of much needed strength in your core, glutes, and hamstrings. That way, you’ll be more balanced and put less pressure on your healing ACL.

• Lay on your stomach with your legs together in parallel
• Keep your arms stretched straight overhead and the tip of the nose to the mat
• Pull in your abdominals so you lift your belly away from the floor
• At the same time, keep your tailbone moving down towards the mat
• Reach out and extend your arms and legs in opposite directions
• Focus on getting length in your spine so your head moves up off the mat
• Continue to reach your arms and legs out as you alternate sides
• Pump them up and down in small pulses

Staying Balanced

After ACL surgery, what you need from your body is better strength and balance. Using Pilates to develop strength in your back, core, and hips will give your body the alignment it needs. That way, you’ll develop your body’s sense of balance which was thrown off after your ACL injury. You’ll be able to use Pilates to focus on specific weaknesses and retrain imbalanced muscles that may have contributed to your injury. Having musculoskeletal issues in your body will delay recovery and continue to strain your knee. Pilates allows you to maintain control, balance, and coordination in your healing knee. Talk to your physical therapist to see if Pilates is an activity you can do to complement your ACL rehabilitation.

How Pilates Can Relieve Lower Back Pain

If you have lower back pain, you know that many different types of treatment approaches exist. These include stretching, functional training, postural exercises, hot and cold therapy, and general exercise. How does Pilates fit into the spectrum of lower back treatment options? By combining some of the most important aspects of what it takes to relieve lower back pain. General lower back pain is difficult to diagnose—many different musculoskeletal imbalances could be contributing to your pain. In general, Pilates routines are an effective way to obtain strength, balance, and flexibility throughout your body. They work to specifically relieve lower back pain by targeting the core muscle groups that support the spine.

Better Alignment For A Healthy Back

The structure of the back is designed to act as a support for nearly every move the body makes. Keeping the back pain free involves focusing on the stabilizing muscles that surround your spine in the lower back. Not only that, it’s also key to strengthen the abdominals and obliques around your core. All of these muscles support the alignment of the spine’s natural curvature. Studies have shown that Pilates is more effective than minimal physical exercise interventions in reducing chronic lower back pain. Lower back pain is usually caused by abnormal pulling and tightness of muscles in the area. This happens when muscles in the back compensate for stabilizing muscles that are weak, which could be the ones in your core. By strengthening and mobilizing the muscles that keep your back aligned, you’ll correct the imbalances that may be causing your lower back pain. A simple move to engage your lower abdominals might include The Single-Leg Stretch:

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• Begin on your back with your knees bent into your chest and shins parallel to the floor
• While exhaling, pull your abs in as you curl your head and shoulders up
• Continue until you reach the tips of your shoulder blades
• Extend 1 leg straight to a 45 degree angle
• As you do so, place both hands on the opposite shin
• Place the outside hand near the ankle, inside hand near the knee
• Focus on engaging your core as you switch your legs
• Extend your opposite leg straight and pull the opposite knee into your hands

Extend To Your Neck & Hips

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Certain Pilates movements also focus on getting your hips and neck muscles aligned with the rest of your spine. Your pelvic and neck areas are extensions of your core. Without alignment and stabilization extending up and down into those parts of your body, you’re going to keep having issues in your back. Beneficial movements for your neck and shoulders might include what are called Scapular Isolations:

• Lie on your back with your knees bent
• Reach your hands with your palms facing in straight up towards the ceiling
• Keeping your head down, inhale and reach your shoulders off the mat
• As you do this, focus on stretching upwards

Exercises for the muscles in the neck and shoulders work to increase their range of motion while also strengthening the muscles in your upper and middle back. With lower back issues, increasing strength and flexibility in your hips and glutes also plays a big role in treating pain. Pilates movements such as The Bridge Roll-Up help to strengthen the glutes and core stabilizers while also improving hip extension:

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• Start by lying on the floor with your knees bent and arms at your sides
• Widen across the chest and slowly raise your pelvis and lower back off of the floor
• As you do this, inhale and focus on pulling in towards your belly
• Pause for a bit as you maintain that bridge with your hips and lower back
• Slowly lower your bottom back towards the ground

By keeping your glutes and pelvic muscles activated, you’ll be taking that extra pressure off of your lower back.

Relieve Stress On Your Spine

Therapydia Lower Back Pain Treatment

Pain in your lower back isn’t usually caused by just issues in your back. Pilates strengthens those weaker muscles that stabilize your spine to relieve lower back pain. If you go into Pilates with lower back pain, you may be able to see a decrease in pain and symptoms within 4 to 5 sessions. If you have any conditions that affect the spine such as scoliosis, sciatica, or any nerve impingement consult with your doctor or physical therapist to see which specific Pilates movements would be the most beneficial for your rehabilitation. Almost everyone who goes into a Pilates program with lower back pain would be able to benefit. Athletes have begun to use Pilates as a way to maintain or improve core stability and control for better performance. Even if you sit at a desk all day and feel some tightness in your lower back, working on spinal alignment could offer you the relief you need.