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Training with a torn ACL

Original Post
John C · · Moab · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 175

So I recently tore my ACL and am now in for a long (~6 month) rehab/recovery period.
What is the best way to exercise and not completely lose fitness that I had before this injury? I have a hangboard and would love to get some recommendations on training programs to use with that. I also have access to some weights, a treadmill, and stationary bike though and really want to know what I can do to retain some amount of alpine climbing cardio fitness and not become totally sedentary while I'm recovering. Does anyone out there who's had a similar injury give any tips?

thebmags · · Outback, Subaru · Joined Jun 2013 · Points: 130

In the same boat, had surgery 1/20 , almost exactly a month out.
Here's another thread with some ideas…

This is what I've figured out so far

-So far the stationary bike has been my best friend, not only for rehab purposes but also for keeping endurance up and moving around to stop from going insane

-Long duration hangboarding workouts, 45 secs - 1 min, with low weight (use pulleys) seem to be doing OK. Haven't exactly been able to test it with real climbing yet so take it with a grain of salt

-For scheduling :Been walking without crutches for about 2 weeks, now ~ 1 week w/o a brace. Being able to bend knee leads to opens up the amounts of working out you can do immensely.

-Knee related: focus on ROM as a quickly as you can, biggest thing right now for me from progressing is getting full extension. Do whatever you can to achieve this as soon as possible.

Other than that good luck! You may find yourself with more free time on the weekend, look at it as a good opportunity to do something/ learn something you've always wanted to but haven't had time because of climbing ie.) a language , programming, read some books.

Brandon MacMullin · · Calgary, Alberta · Joined May 2016 · Points: 0

Hey man I tore my ACL two years ago and did the whole injury, recovery, prehab, surgery, rehab gauntlet.

It isn't that bad.

For the first month, just be patient and let the healing happen/ wait for swelling to go away. Focus on crushing your physical therapy. Doing it diligently is a big time commitment.

Around 2-3 months you start getting functional again. Lot's of stationary bike and leg strengthening. At the 3 month line, you will be able to return to doing "in-line" activities to tolerance i.e activities that don't require your ACL. You will be back in the climbing gym (not bouldering because of the jumping) but at least climbing again.

At 3.5 months I was running and humping a 60 lbs pack up a mountain.

The 6 month timeline is for knee torquing ACL activities like jumping, skiing, playing soccer etc.


Michael Anderson24 · · Charlotte, NC · Joined Jun 2014 · Points: 45

I tore mine and had reconstructive surgery about 2 years ago. Everything posted is great info.

Be as diligent as possible with the PT and the recovery should stay on track. Probably back to climbing around 3-4 months top roping, 5-6 months leading, and bouldering will just have to be felt out. I waited about a year. These were all personal timelines and yours could vary.

Hangboarding is your best friend in terms of training for climbing while you are out of commission. I came back stronger than I was before my tear which I 100% contribute to hangboarding, pullups, and lockoffs. If you are new to hangboarding I highly recommend the Anderson brother's book. Its a great place to start. If you are more experienced with a few years of building up tendons I would recommend max weight hangs.

For the knee, I did stationary bike -> elliptical -> running and leg presses.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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