T Nation

Squatting after ACL/Meniscus repair

I have yet another question about my recovery from knee surgery. I am 12 weeks out from surgery to repair my torn ACL (hamstring graft) and meniscus (REPAIR, not removal). Things are coming along ahead of schedule, but I’m curious as to when I should be able to get back on the squat rack.

In addition to everything else I do for rehab (leg press, hamstring curls, partial one-leg squats, calf raises, etc.), I’ve been doing body weight squats but feel like I’ve gotten everything I can out of that.

I went in the gym last week and put a bar on my back and did 3x10 to parallel and it felt fine. Yesterday, I added 20 pounds (65 lbs. total) and did the same. Legs are a little sore (missed that feeling a lot), but I’m otherwise fine. My only concern is that my ultra-conservative physical therapist would most likely disapprove.

From what I’ve been told, the issue is not the ACL, but the meniscus repair. Apparently, the deeper you go past 90 degrees, the bigger risk you run of re-tearing the meniscus (as it’s still healing). I have enough control to stop at 90 though, and really feel like I can get back under a bar.

Am I putting myself at risk by squatting at this point? Again, I’m 12 weeks removed from surgery today.

my first thought was, what’s the rush. I know you’re anxious to get back under a heavy bar, but a good repair takes time. Why risk a set back at this point?

Same problem I am about 8 weeks out, I have been doing bodyweight squats to above 90dgrees. The issue is indeed the repair. I’ve talked to my physio about this he says about 16 weeks out is when the heavy stuff starts. The biggest problem will be getting the balance back to equalize the hip girdle. But yeh I’m sure that you know what a pain in the ass it is and that an extra 4 weeks for a well healed meniscus is worth much more than an early start with squats

Man I know you guys are right, haha. I just have the itch I guess.

ah man tell me about it. I still go to the rugby group training and then they bust out the hex bars and rack for front squats and deadlifts, and i have to really restrain myself. The thing i miss the most is the olympic lifts, I used to own that shit!

I would definitely hold off on the heavy loads at this point of your recovery. Everybody has given great reasonings so far - hip musculature not ready for the load, the meniscal repair is something you do not want to rush, not to mention you also have the hamstring tendon that the graft was taken from.

The ACL graft itself is something you need to be concerned with as well. 3 months out is a decent time, but that 2-4 month window (especially closer to 2 months) is the window where most re-tears occur. At 2 months, most people start to feel really good, but the strength of the graft starts to decline slightly at that 2 month mark. As stated earlier, 16 weeks out is when the graft and surrounding musculature will be ready for the heavy loads.

Thanks for all the input. I had not planned on ramping up the weight quickly. I started with just the bar, and had really planned on getting to 105 in four weeks (if that). I just felt like I’d gotten all I could out of body weight squats at this point and wanted to add just a little more weight. I understand it’s going to be several more months (maybe, but hopefully not a year) before I could get back to 225+.

IMO, one of the best things you can do right now would be glute activation and glute targeted exercises (I have found great results with hip thrusters, which minimize knee stress). Taking some time away from the squats can actually be a good thing. Best of luck with the remainder of your rehab and keep us updated on your progress!

tell me about it, my squat was 180 kg(396.8 lbs) before the surgery! so It will take me a while to reach it again, but as they say good things come to those who weight!(bad joke)