T Nation

Complete ACL Tear



I received an ACL tear last month and I'm getting the surgery late September. I was wondering if this would be a problem in future lifting (i.e. squats/deadlifts). I really enjoy doing the three big lifts and was hoping to get into powerlifting sometime in the future.

I would hope that I could go 100% after a couple of months of rehab. I was wondering what other peoples experiences have been with such an injury, including post-op issues such as knee pain or loss of confidence.

P.S. I sustained this injury by landing straight legged playing volleyball and obtained a dislocated knee.


I have 3 friends that have torn an ACL in the last 13 months. Two of them are only a couple months into rehab.

The third is about a year since surgery. He started playing basketball around 6-7 months after the surgery and looked like he did before the injury. According to him the most pain he had was from the hamstring where they remove the tendon. It takes time for the body to realize that the tendon is no longer there. The first month is the most work but you see the most progress. He is a little over 12 months since the surgery and it feels as good as new. He doesn't lift weights so he couldn't give any advice on lifting.

Your physical therapist will tell you when and what you can do. One interesting thing he mentioned is that a little alcohol can help with recovery. His physical therapist said that the alcohol thins the blood and helps get rid of the swelling. Obviously moderation is important because too much alcohol can hurt recovery.



Thanks for the response! It's been bugging me lately, hopefully I made the right choice taking the patella tendon reconstruction. I can't stay inactive, always want to lift, play basketball, and volleyball. Hopefully I'll be back to normal come next year.


All three of my friends chose to get the surgery where they use a tendon from their hamstring. I think this reduces (eliminates?) the risk of your body rejecting the transplant. This is also the surgery that Tiger Woods had. I assume when you mention patella tendon reconstruction they will be taking a patella tendon from a cadaver? Is this what your doctor recommended?



A buddy of mine went patella tendon route. He's doing much better, said he felt close to 100% after 6 months, but still knows his limits, it took about 10-12 months to feel 100% and not be scared to hit the weights and play ball again.


The patellar tendon comes from your own body. I believe they take the middle section of the tendon. The body repairs the tendon by itself from what I've read. Not 100% sure


It's good to hear that he's at 100%. I want to hit the squats and deadlifts hard again. I spent all of last year finally getting to my measly 315 Squat and 405 Deadlift. Now all I can do is bench and pull ups. Is there anything I should try to do pre-surgery? I've been cycling and trying to keep some muscle mass and make my leg stronger pre-surgery so it would be better for rehab.


i tore my acl, mcl, and meniscus back on august 6th - my surgery is scheduled for mid sept. it sucks, but i look at it as a great chance to concentrate all on my upperbody, lol.

i have been assured by both my doctor and physical therapist that I can return to my current lifestyle in terms of heavy squats and heavy deadlifts as long as I am able to get the extension back in my knee. they said that this is the MOST important aspect of both rehab pre and post surgery.

best of luck in your rehab and surgery. youll be back up and lifting heavy in no time!


Thanks! Good luck to you too. Guess we'll be sharing the same experience around the same time lol. Hopefully we come back better than ever.


Tore my ACL, MCL and MM in 1984. Squatted 520 in 1996 without and ACL. Had my ACL reconstructed with a cadaver graft in 1999. That was a good choice for me, I was 32, not running around and I had hung up my Chucks (stopped powerlifting).

Bitten by the powerlifting bug again a couple of years ago and am making my way back to squatting 500.

Graft choice is a collaboration between you and your surgeon. Each has pros and cons, but for a young guy patella bone-tendon-bone autograft is usually the recommendation. Follow the advice of your surgeon and Physios. When you are cleared,,,,, go for it!