I have had two ACL surgeries and one meniscus surgery and had severe quad atrophy. Since I have been recovering, over a year, I seem to put all my weight on the healthy leg because my right quad is still smaller than my left one. I workout daily near your Waters Place location in the Bronx, but still feel I am putting more pressure on my left leg than right.
Following any knee surgery, quad atrophy is very common as the muscle activation is inhibited by swelling and pain following the procedure. Even the most successful surgeries with the least pain often have decreased muscle activation and use which leads to atrophy over time. Muscle hypertrophy, or the growth the existing muscle, is a slow process which usually takes months to notice considerable changes. When muscle atrophy occurs either following a surgery, bed rest, or decrease in activity there will be substantial loss of strength. When rehabbing and exercising the neurologic connection between your brain and muscle will develop first allowing for you to recover your strength without increased muscle mass.
In order to correct your weight shift to your uninvolved side it is important for you to first feel comfortable putting all your weight on your involved side. This can be developed by practicing weight shifting from your good side to your bad side. Eventually you will be able to stand on a single leg and practice balancing exercises in this position. During the process of correcting your weight shifting you will also be able to start weight bearing, and resistance exercises to increase your strength and muscle mass. Body weight exercises such as squats, lunges, step ups, step downs and sit to stands allow you to develop your leg muscles without using any equipment. In a rehab setting or at a gym exercises such as a leg press, or leg press can be used at the direction of your therapist or surgeon.
The greatest muscle mass will be developed by completing sets of 3-4 with 6-12 repetitions completed per set. Rest should be for approximately 1 minute between sets as your muscles need this time to replenish their oxygen and energy. Generally, you will be looking to be fatigued by your last few repetitions, but have the strength and energy to complete 1-5 more reps if you chose to. Using these guidelines will help you achieve greater muscle strength and lead to muscle hypertrophy over the course of a few months and beyond. At our Waters Place location in the Bronx located within the Hutchinson Metro Center, we can help you improve your bodily condition safely and effectively. Contact us today to make an appointment!
Daniel Seidler, PT