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Core Exercises while in a Locked Leg Brace

Post ACL surgery, my leg was bound in a metal leg brace that was locked at 0 degrees of flexion. Keeping my leg completely straight for 2 weeks was really difficult for many reasons, including both lower back and hip pain. One way to alleviate the discomfort in my body was to activate my core and abdominals, but I wasn't able to do my normal toe taps, dead bugs, or planks. Here are some exercises with modifications for the ACL or other knee injuries that require a locked brace that I discovered during my rehabilitation.

What you need:

1 large/medium stability ball

1 medium dumbbell (I used 8 lbs)

Guided video instructions at the bottom of the page! Best of luck on your path to recovery.

Exercise 1: Upper body lift with elevated legs

Legs supported on ball, hands behind head, lift shoulder blades off the floor, and lower back down.

Variation with arms outstretched.

Progression: Full roll up to jack knife.

Exercise 2: Single leg bridge with supported leg

Single leg bridge on unbraced side.

Exercise 3: Single arm chest fly with elevated legs

Starting position for single arm chest fly.

Open up your arm to the side without rocking the pelvis or rib cage, bring it back to the starting position.

Improper form: Only go as far as you can keep both hips and shoulders square and on the floor.

Want more guidance? Here are the exercises demonstrated with cues.

Exercise 1

Helpful tips:

-Don't pull on your neck with your hands

-Think of lifting up and over your sternum

-Squeeze your butt and push legs gently down into the ball

Exercise 2

Helpful tips:

- Don't push your braced leg into the ball

-Drive the heel of the bent leg into the ground

-Keep your sternum rooted into the ground- don't arch through your upper back

Exercise 3

Helpful tips:

- Only go as far as you can maintain your hips and shoulders square and on the floor

-Start with a lighter weight and work your way up

Even if you aren't injured or recovering from surgery, these variations are great if you need some extra support while you continue to gain strength. Contact me if you have any questions and as always, make sure you have your doctor's permission to exercise.


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