T Nation

DLing with a Torn ACL/Sprained MCL



I have been training for about 2 years now and I have been following the 5 3 1 program. Over the summer i tore my acl and sprained my mcl playing soccer. I havent done the surgery yet but will do so in the future.

So my current problem is with the deadlifts where I use the conventional stance. Every time I get in position, my mcl starts hurting a bit. Once I pull and lock it, there is not much pain. So I decided to switch and go sumo and the pain is a bit less. What my question is if I start pulling sumo with heavy loads, will the acl tear come into play there.

I know im not the only one pulling with tears here. So any help is much appreciated



People withOUT pre-existing conditions get injured on 5-3-1. You just don't hear about it much because many of these people fear ridicule.

To make matters worse, you bring to the table the acl/mcl injuries. For you to contemplate heavy weight (in relation to your current strength levels) at this point has a horrendous risk/reward ratio.

I'm not so sure why I think this, but you come across as fairly young (teens to early 20s). Whether or not this is the case is neither here nor there, I suppose, as I've seen this behavior from middle-aged men and women from all walks of life.

Your closing statement makes me suspicious that you're leaning towards lifting heavy:

I suspect you're seeking validation.

If you take the time to search through this site, you'll see a junkyard of fools who thought they were brave by forging on through the injury. Just look at the recent pec tear thread on this subforum and you'll see a text book example. They'll rationalize a bit here, justify a bit there, ignore those who advise a cautious approach, and applaud those who support their idiotic notions.

The reality is, many of these poor bastards (and bitches, as stupidity is not gender biased) make their situations worse by hitting the throttle when they should have eased off. Publicly, they'll put on a brave face. In their most private moments, however, they know they'll never be the same because they made the wrong decision.

I suggest you seriously contemplate just how little the margin of error is for someone in your place.

I don't know the severity of your injuries or any other issues you may have. And I certainly don't know your ability to take a step back and see things with clarity and perspective (the rarest of traits).

In other words, I don't know how well you'll recover from all this. I do know that lifting aggressively at this point will greatly diminish the chance that you can recover well enough to be afforded the OPPORTUNITY to achieve significant progress.

If you plan on improving in your chosen sport, the first order of business is getting healthy. The degree of medical intervention required should be a carefully thought-out decision you'll need to make after discussing the matter with several specialists. Once a reasonable level of health is attained, you can focus on building a solid foundation incorporating the not-so-sexy protocols. Once you've earned the right to lift heavy, then, at your own risk, you can proceed.


Risk reward comes in to play more when dealing with sprains or strains where further damage or rupture is possible with continual training of the same methods. In this case, OP has already fully ruptured his ACL. The only scenario I can see you further causing harm is if your knee is unstable (you didn't mention) and OP's knee gives out and you tear your meniscus (which may already be torn and not show up on MRI, medial meniscus attaches to MCL). Right now OP should be focused on maximizing quadricep/hamstring cocontraction as well as overall quad/ham strength. The deadlift is a CKC activity. I don't anticipate your ACL being stressed very much with either the conv or sumo style. Use your best judgement OP avoid pain and good luck


With the torn acl, my knee is unstable if there is any specific movements like pivoting. I specifically asked the doctors if it was okay for me to squat and deadlift with the injury I had sustained and they said it was okay but told me to stay away from things like the leg curl.

I will give the sumo a go and see how it fairs and thanks for the info


On paper, I don't disagree with your analysis.

But people don't lift heavy things on paper. In a real-world scenario, there are many variables that come into play. And the heavier the weight, smaller the margin for error.

And the OP specifically wanted advice regarding going heavy.

I stand by my original advice that this is NOT the time for the OP to attempt to lift close to his maximal effort.

BHOLL, even you state that you "don't anticipate your ACL being stressed very much with either the conv or sumo style." This means that you cannot be certain that unforeseen variables won't come into play.

I realize that there are zero guarantees in life. Yet, I will not, in good conscience, jeopardize someone's long term health simply because theoretically it's safe.

I get the sense that you're very well educated from a classroom sense. You're most likely a PT or training to be a PT.

What you state, from a text book perspective is straightforward and clean. The real world is complicated and dirty.

Before you accuse of patronizing you, keep in mind that one of the things I specialize in is the bridge from rehab to what most consider 'normal' training. I'm the guy who takes someone on AFTER he's done with Ortho visits/PT sessions, and, now that he's a little wiser, wants to train again but in an intelligent and precise manner.

From my perspective, clinical/textbook knowledge is important. However, empirical knowledge and gut instinct is VITAL. And this is why I advised the OP to lay off the throttle for now.

Of course, if the OP has already made up his before even posting that he's going to go heavy on the deads, he'll use your advice as a potential validation. There's nothing I can do about that. I told him honestly what I would do if I or anyone I was training were in his place.

If the OP is on the fence, however, and for anyone else in a similar situation, ask yourselves this: Are you willing to bet with your long term health just because theoretically you have a gambler's chance?

Whatever your answer to that question may be, I've met plenty of folks who flipped that coin and lost. They're the ones who sheepishly approach me in a gym when no one is within earshot and ask if anything can be done. Sometimes yes, more often it's a case of making the best of what is essentially a debilitation that could have been avoided.

Those barbells and plates will always be there. A safe detour now won't hurt you in the long run.


Did you also inform the docs that you plan on lifting close to your limit on a regular basis? Did you describe to them the protocols as outlined in 5-3-1?

As I suspected, you already had your mind set before you started this thread.

However, for others out there in a similar situation, they should realize that this path will create even more imbalances as the body attempts to go through the lifts while protecting the injured areas. These imbalances will more than likely result in other issues down the road.

I've said this before and I'll say it again: just because that barbell is moving in what appears to be a perfect line is no guarantee that your body is working in ideal synchronicity. It's the conservative approach incorporating the not-so-sexy work that has the highest probability of giving optimal results. People don't realize, often until it's too late, that they need to earn the right to lift heavy things. This is my experience and professional opinion.

As for you, OP, best of luck. You'll need boatloads of it.


easy on the keyboard bro, Im not interested in what you do, nor do you know anything about what I do, your assuming things which are entirely incorrect. You stated your opinion, you don't need to try and validate your opinion via life experience (which may or may not be true).
We know, your the only one in the trenches with the real knowledge, while all of us are the textbook junkies. Variables? Not sure what that even means or what your implying.

OP if the ortho doc said your AOk then go for it, monitor yourself and listen to your body. If your that worried about lifting near your max just call the office and ask the question yourself.



Well I dont want this thread to turn out into an arguement. All i wanted to know was if the acl would be strained in a sumo lift like how my mcl is affected in a conventional deadlift. I will try it myself but im a bit worried about the lockout of the sumo as the knee is at an angle.

Right now im squatting on monday and dling on friday. So the plan is to only deadlift or squat in a week. Basically im going to spread out the 5 3 1 program and only do 3 lifts in a week. I think this will not strain my knee as much.