Among many skateboarding injuries, ACL tears can be very alarming. And I understand how badly you want to get back riding.
But you must have thought about the possibilities and wondered if you can still skateboard after ACL surgery.
Well, here’s an answer…
Yes, you can skateboard after ACL surgery, but not too soon. To be on the safe side, don’t skateboard until about six months after the surgery or when you’ve fully recovered.
An ACL tear is a serious knee injury. And when you skateboard without recovering well, there’s a high chance of you re-injuring yourself.
Now you must be wondering why it takes so much time to be able to skate again. Is it necessary?
Continue reading as we discuss this next and more you should know about ACL tears in skateboarding.
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Why is Recovery Important After the Surgery?
It’s not proper to resume skateboarding soon after ACL surgery. ACL surgeries are serious operations and the recovery time is pretty long.
I understand it’s hard for young skaters to wait for a long time to ride again. This recovery process can last for a year or more.
However, it’s all for the best and will give your wounds enough time to heal fully. If you fail to do so, you will end up re-injuring yourself.
This can also create further damages that might allow you to skate ever again. Avoid any activity that’ll put stress on your affected knee, especially during the first few weeks after surgery.
I’d suggest you fully recover before picking up your skateboard again.
Tips To Recover Faster After ACL Surgery
#1: Have Enough Rest
This doesn’t sound fun, and I understand. But if you want to recover quickly and get back to skateboarding soon, you will need a lot of rest.
Resting after ACL surgeries is necessary. It helps restore strength and flexibility to your affected tissues.
#2: Fight the Pain
There’s always pain after every ACL surgery. And the more you can kill the pain, the faster you’ll recover.
The pain won’t allow you to perform the necessary healing exercise. This, in turn, will prolong your recovery time.
Hence, to speed things up, take some pain relievers that are prescribed by the surgeon. What’s more, you could use cold therapy. It’s simply placing ice bags directly on or around the sore knee.
It has practical pain-relieving effects. It works by freezing the pain receptors around the affected knee.
#3: Reduce Swelling
Swelling or edema is a side effect of ACL surgery. This swelling accompanies pain, preventing you from moving your sore knee freely.
Similar to the pain, swelling can prevent you from doing healing exercises. And this makes the recovery rate slow. So you need to relieve the swelling so you can be able to comfortably move your sore knee.
Just like the knee, you can reduce swelling with cold therapy. Moreover, wrapping around your knee with an elastic bandage will also help.
#4: Regularly Keep Your Knee Straight
After ACL surgery, keeping your knees completely straight is the most important part of recovery. Perform stretching exercises repeatedly several times a day.
This must be after you’ve gotten the swelling and pain under control. They can prevent you from achieving a straight knee.
In addition, when lying or sitting down, stretch out your legs and place your heel on a pillow. Keeping your legs this way forces your knee to be straight.
Do this alongside other stretching exercises for days and take note of your progress. To know your achieving a straight knee, you should feel little or no gap when you place your leg stretched out on a flat surface.
#4: Make Your Knee Flexible
It’s sometimes difficult to bend your knees after ACL surgeries. Knee bending (flexion) is a safe thing to do, so do not worry about re-injuring yourself. ACL reconstruction is a pretty strong one!
Understand that if you don’t get your knees bending, your reconstruction will heal poorly and your knees might become stiff. So, do not expect the knee to regain flexibility on its own that easily.
It’ll require forceful efforts for you to do so! Hence, you should do a lot of knee-bending exercises during recovery. A simple one to start with is a drop-and-dangle exercise.
#5: Exercise Your Quadriceps
It’s normal for your quad to become weak or waste away after ACL reconstruction surgery. However, it’s bad if your quads remain that way during recovery.
Quads muscle wasting involves the weakening and freezing of the quad muscles. In addition, the affected leg can also appear smaller than the other.
After an ACL operation, you need quad strength to recover quickly. It’s necessary to carry out movement exercises that boost healing.
In addition, a quad weakness promotes poor knee reconstruction and possibly re-injury. To avoid this as well as boost your recovery, you need to keep your quads going.
- Straight leg raises
- One-leg stands
- Isometric quad contractions
- Forward step downs
- Slow lateral lunges (eccentric)
#6: Take Regular Walks
This might seem simple but it does a lot. As you walk, each step works on your leg muscles. It contracts the quad, hamstrings, and calves.
This way, the nerves of the affected leg muscles will start to function better. Staying for long with crutches will do you no good.
Give your crutches a break and try walking regularly without support. This way, you’ll recover faster!
Recommended Equipment To Use After ACL Surgery
After ACL reconstruction surgery, you will need some equipment throughout your recovery process. Here are some of the recommended equipment below:
For the first few weeks walking on your own will be difficult. Surgeons will recommend crutches to support you while walking.
You will need them till your knee is strong enough to carry your body weight and walk without aid.
These pillows place your foot on while you lie down. It helps to stretch and keep your knee straight, which is important during an ACL recovery.
Rehabilitative Knee Braces
Rehabilitative knee braces are recommended for ACL recovery. They provide support and protection to the knee throughout the healing process.
These knee braces also restore flexibility and strength to the affected knee joint.
Flexible Ice Packs
These ice packs are flexible enough to wrap around the sore knee. It’s a form of cold therapy and helps to relieve pain and swelling throughout the healing process.
How To Deal With Fear of ACL Surgery
It’s normal to feel uncomfortable and scared about an ACL reconstruction surgery. But one thing you should know is that there’s no point worrying or stressing about it.
All you need is to prepare yourself to handle the situation better before and after the surgery. See how to achieve this below:
Before surgery, you should get ready mentally. Avoid searching about the surgery online, especially about the reconstructions that weren’t successful.
It’ll only make you feel very uneasy. It’s best to directly speak with a doctor or someone who has had an ACL repair before. Remain calm, trust your surgeon, and have your surgery done!
During these times, you’ll mostly be scared about your healing process and recovery. Perhaps, you might be wondering if you’ll re-injure yourself or poorly heal from the knee reconstruction.
ACL reconstruction operations don’t leave large scars on your leg. There will just be two or three tiny marks with a little opening.
Furthermore, a major part of your recovery depends on how seriously you take your rehabilitation. This means it’s up to you to recover well and sound.
Follow your surgeon’s instructions and you’ll be alright.
Why Do Skateboarders Get ACL Tears?
These tears normally happen when the impact of skateboarding on the knee joint is high. Skateboarding is low impact but certain movements we make can cause these ligament tears. See them below:
- Suddenly stopping when riding
- Poor landing from jumps
- Twisting while your foot is firmly fixed on the board
- Skateboarding crashes and collisions that hit the knee directly
- A quick stop and change of direction (cutting)
How To Prevent ACL From Tearing?
There are several things you can do to reduce the risks of ACL tears happening. Let’s take a look at some of these preventive measures:
Exercise Muscles Around Your Knee
These muscles are mostly your quads and hamstrings. Work on these muscles so that they become stronger and more flexible.
This helps them withstand the impact of skateboarding on their knee joints much better. This way, you won’t easily suffer tears from rough twists and landing.
Just like practicing falling, you can also practice how to land properly from a jump. If you don’t land well from jumps, you’re likely to have an ACL tear.
However, when you’re confident about your landing, you can prevent many leg injuries. In other words, you can control how much pressure is placed on your leg as you land.
This, in turn, reduces the risk of ACL tears caused by poor landing.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
Nutrition is important in all sports and skateboarding isn’t an exception. When you’re lacking calories or are not properly hydrated, you become tired easily.
When this happens to skaters, they lose focus and don’t mind how they move. And this creates room for injuries, including ligament tears.
Hence, if you’re going to be riding, be sure your body has the energy to do so. Eat a well-balanced diet to provide your body with the energy it needs.
In summary, we recommend waiting for at least 6 months after an ACL surgery before you resume skateboarding. However, you have to recover from the surgery before picking up your board again.
If you don’t allow your body to properly heal before skateboarding you might end up re-injuring yourself.
In addition, you’ll need equipment to help you recover better. They include crutches, knee braces, and ice packs.
Remember, ACL tears happen to skateboarders mostly when they move in ways that badly stress their knee joints. It could be a bad landing or a rough twisting.
That being said, having strong quads and hamstrings is important in preventing ACL tears. So you should exercise these muscles very often.
Do you know that as you skate, your muscles build too? It’s considered a full-body workout!
Find out all the muscles you’re building while skateboarding in our article — What Muscles Does Skateboarding Work?