Going on Holiday After ACL Surgery
How to Protect Your Knee and Prevent Further Injury on Your Travels
As if tearing your ACL wasn’t bad enough, you’ve just found out that your surgery is scheduled for shortly before your trip. Typical. Thankfully, there’s no harm in going on holiday after ACL surgery provided you put in the necessary preparation, get plenty of rest and take extra care whilst on your trip.
Of course, the level of activity your knee can cope with whilst on your travels depends how well it has healed. This in turn depends on the complexity of your ACL tear and how much time you have between surgery and your holiday.
The pain and swelling usually settles down a month or so after ACL reconstruction, although you should still avoid participating in activities that involve a lot of lateral movements, i.e. cutting and pivoting, without the help of a knee brace.
Otherwise, you should be able to get around without too many problems. Just be sure to follow up ACL surgery with the recommended programme of physiotherapy to straighten your leg out before you go.
Travelling After ACL Surgery
Planning your trip
Take your ACL injury into account when planning the itinerary for your holiday, particularly if you’re going to be in the early stages of recovery. Carefully consider how you’re going to get about and what you’re going to do, and balance active pursuits with plenty of rest and relaxation to give your knee a chance to recover.
If you’re planning a physically active holiday, such as one that involves hiking, skiing or water sports, it may be worth investing in an ACL knee brace for sports. While these might not come cheap, they provide effective support for the affected knee, preventing further damage and enabling you to enjoy your holiday to the fullest.
Hiking poles or spikes may also come in useful if you plan to do a lot of walking. However, if you’re flying they might not be allowed on the plane as carry-on so it might be just as well to buy them when you arrive at your destination.
Air travel after ACL surgery
Many orthopaedic surgeons advise their patients not to fly for four to six weeks following ACL surgery. However, this usually applies to long, intercontinental flights that involve a lot of sitting and standing around, so if you’re on a short haul flight, you should have nothing to worry about.
Longer flights may not be a problem either provided you keep moving and regularly stretch your legs, so it’s worth asking your doctor for guidance based on your particular injury.
To make your flight more comfortable, request a seat with plenty of legroom or sit in the aisle seat so that you can extend your leg and get up whenever you need to. Check in online if possible and take advantage of early boarding to avoid long queues in the airport.
On your trip
With all the necessary preparation done, you shouldn’t have much to worry about when travelling after ACL reconstruction. Just remember to factor in plenty of rests, avoid walking down steep hills where possible, and take extra care on rough terrain. Staying inactive for too long can cause stiffness so even on beach days, go for a wander every hour or so to keep your knees supple.
Of course, every individual and every injury is different, so if you have any further doubts about going on holiday after ACL surgery, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor, physiotherapist or orthotist.
Last but not least, don’t let concerns about knee pain spoil your holiday. So long as you look after yourself, you should be able to enjoy your trip as much as you would any other.
Have a great time!