T Nation

Squatting Without an ACL

Is it possible to squat and deadlift heavy without an ACL without having issues. I don’t want to dislocate my knee again and I also don’t want to have surgery again.

The issue with the surgery is that last month I did get an ACL surgery but I got an infection during the surgery (Staph. Aureus) . This lead to a second surgery for taking out the ACL graft and cleaning of the knee joint of bacteria. I was also put on antibiotics for 6 weeks but ended up with severe allergic reactions to the antibiotics 2 weeks into the antibiotics. This has made me very reluctant to do a third surgery for an ACL allograft.

Squatting without an ACL can be done safely from what I understand, deadlifting I am not so sure.

You may want to look into prolotherapy.

[quote]VikingsAD28 wrote:
Squatting without an ACL can be done safely from what I understand, deadlifting I am not so sure.[/quote]

That’s what I hear too. If I remember correctly the ACL is used for stabilization in side to side movements like cutting or turns and stuff like that? With a steady base I don’t believe the ACL comes into play

I tore my ACL and underwent protobation therapy instead of having it repaired. I squat and deadlift all the time without any problems. At the time that I tore it, Eric Cressey was writing my programs and I deadlifted throughout the entire therapy process.

take care
Collin

Just wanted to say good luck. I’m 3 1/2 weeks out of my ACL reconstruction, so I feel your pain (literally).

Hi Persistence - I caught your thread and thought I’d add in my experience as this can be an issue, contingent upon your desired levels, as well as type of activities. I’ll try to keep it brief.

Here’s an outline of my experience:

1988 - detached my left acl while playing basketball, as a HS Sophomore had to sit out a year of sports. Of course the docs wanted to operate, but I and my parents didn’t feel comfortable with the physicians, and it was a clean detachment, with no cartilage damage. I rehabbed by doing low impact activities, tons of bike riding as well as hamstring work. After 2 months or so the swelling was down, and the joint was ‘tight’ again.

1989-1990 - Competed in sports, and was ‘acl’ deficient. Did experience two slight dislocations, but was able to get my vert up to 36" and lifted aggressively, squats, deads etc.

The issues came in around '93 as I trained like a mad man, and didn’t have the knowledge to periodize my workouts. Throughout the 90’s I continued to squat aggressivley, but also played a great deal of basketball and tennis - which as we know requires a great deal of lateral movement, as well as stop/start explosiveness, which placed chronic strain on the joint, which is a huge issues as the ACL is responsible for forward stabilization of the joint. Even though I had no cartilage damage, the microtrauma’s of hard training began take their toll, and I began experiencing cartilage degeneration, as well as severe patellar tendinitis, which in turn caused a reduction in my muscle tone/integrity in my vastus etc…as such the joint began to get lax, and acute pain resulted.

In 2001 I finally had the surgery, and have had a great recovery, as I was at the point where I couldn’t squat or even take stairs without pain.

If you’re going to move forward with an ACL deficient knee, here’s what I would recommend, based upon my experience:

1 - Avoid extensive sporting activities that place strain on your knees. The sporting activities are what caused the micro-trauma/shifts in the knee (due to the acl deficiency) which also led to cartilage damage…then acute pain…then surgery. Most importantly, was the fact that I was unable to lift heavy or compete anymore, which drastically affected my body comp and motivation for a couple of years.

2 - I did not experience any knee issues or exacerbations of the defiency by doing conventional squats and deads, as I always used solid form, and stayed within my ‘techical’ max. My top squat lift in my mid twenties was 585 lbs - without an ACL, so that’s not a problem. The issue lies in sports, as well as ballistic activities such as vertical jump training, plyos and jump squats - which were also included in my training.

So with that said, provided that you don’t have any more structural damage than the ACL Deficiency, I would say you could move forward with powerlifting, as long as you avoid the activities that can and will shut you down. I would also spend extra time on posterior chain development, as that will greatly assist in your knee stabilization.

Also ensure that you take glucosomine/chondroiten as well as Flameout for inflammation issues, and joint health.

Let me know if I can assist, as I can relate to your issue. But Cressy would obviously be the subject matter expert on this topic.

I would think the walkout would be the most dangerous part. If you could Squat out of a Monolift, you would eliminate that issue.

The real problem is that without an ACL, you are limiting yourself when it comes to other sports/activities. If you ever want to ski, play football, basketball, or any other sport that involves planting your foot with the possibility of rotation, then I would opt for the third sugery.

It’s been quite the frustrating experience. I’m still thinking about another ACL surgery but I seem to be prone to infections or something. When I had a PICC line for the antibiotics they found out I was getting fevers cause the line was infected. It all makes me so nervous cause this all put me out of work and such for a month already (Internship). I still really wanna play sports and lift hard so it’s a hard decision right now. Thanks for all the reponses.

P.S. Does anyone know a good orthopedic surgeon in Toronto?

P.S. Does anyone know a good orthopedic surgeon in Toronto?[/quote]


Hey Man - I’m in the States, but if I were you, I’d do a search for the Team Physicians that work with your local pro-teams, such as the Raptors or the Leafs, that’s what I did when I had mine done, as I wanted a Surgeon who is used to working with athletes. They understand the expectations and goals that I had for my post-op recovery, and activities. As most of us know, there is a HUGE disparity in the medical profession, just as there is in any career in the marketplace.

Also, to help with excessive knee stress, consider incorporating more unilateral work into your training, I began doing tons of pistols, split squats etc. after my surgery, and have really balanced out my posterior chain, and muscle imbalances, while lowering the stress on my joints thanks to the lower overall loads. I still lift heavy with legs, but do less overall volume with those weights. It sucks to get old from a physiological standpoint, and I’ve learned from trial and error (mostly error up until now) that we have got to protect our joints, if we want to continue to train aggressively, and frequently as we get older.

I had my ACL done in 2003, haven’t had any problems with it at all, play sports better than most as well. The ACL prevents your knee from hyperextending.

One word of advice is to get the graft from a cadaver instead of your hammies, thats the only thing I would’ve changed from mine. Simply because it fucks up your coordination.

[quote]Jason Randall wrote:

P.S. Does anyone know a good orthopedic surgeon in Toronto?


Hey Man - I’m in the States, but if I were you, I’d do a search for the Team Physicians that work with your local pro-teams, such as the Raptors or the Leafs, that’s what I did when I had mine done, as I wanted a Surgeon who is used to working with athletes. They understand the expectations and goals that I had for my post-op recovery, and activities. As most of us know, there is a HUGE disparity in the medical profession, just as there is in any career in the marketplace.
[/quote]

I agree 100%. My surgeon has several patients with the NFL and NBA. If he’s good enough to work on guys who’s careers center around their body being up to speed and worth millions, he’s good enough to work on a dipshit like me.

i read louie simmons blew his acl and box squatted. you can give that a try.

[quote]Persistance wrote:

P.S. Does anyone know a good orthopedic surgeon in Toronto?[/quote]

Hey I tore my ACL at the end of July 2009 going under the knife this coming Friday.

The specialist in Toronto who I was told was the best was Dr. Brock.

He really seemed to know his stuff when I talked to him however he had a waiting list of close to 9 months.

Good Luck

You can safely squat and deadlift with ACL deficient knee or knees. Both movements are closed kinetic chain with very strong co-contractions of the quads and hamstrings stabilizing the knee.