ACL Surgery

The Complete ACL Surgery Recovery GuideFor more information with a detailed timeline, exercises for pre- and post-op, and yoga videos, check out The Complete ACL Surgery Recovery Guide here!

Hi all!

Since I found out about my ACL surgery, I have been reading up on what to expect, talking with friends who have undergone the same surgery and gathering as much information as possible. I want my recovery time to be miraculously fast, so I have been preparing my body the best that I can before going under the knife. I have been eating strict paleo and using essential oils to help aid & prepare my body for the surgery – you do not have to do this, but I highly recommend doing your own research to help prepare yourself before undergoing any type of surgery. Below are lists of Surgery Prep for what to expect, nutrition, using oils, questions to ask your surgeon, insurance and what to prepare for and expect 1 month leading up to surgery all the way through 1 week post surgery. I will be updating this as much as I can as soon as I go in for surgery and making any changes afterwards to add anything I missed.


1 Month Before:

  • Began drinking homemade bone broth (grass fed) on a daily basis – I drank 1 quart a day. This is packed full of minerals & nutrients, heals your gut and strengthens your immune system.

2 weeks before:

  • Stock up on movies & books!
  • 1-2 aromatouch massages a week – this is supposed to help prepare your body for the trauma it is going to go through! (My mom is certified, so she did this for me 1x week about a month before my surgery)
  • Tie up loose ends with insurance
    • Coverage on you brace, crutches, ice machine, physical therapy, surgery fee, anesthesiology fee, doctors fee, surgery recovery room fee, MRI, etc

1 Week before:

  • Begin adding a few drops of lemon/lemon oil to your water – this will help cleanse and detox your body in preparation for the surgery
  • Apply a flu oil blend to the bottoms of your feet (before bed) – to help with toxic protection
  • Schedule your 1st physical therapy session (within 4-7 days post surgery)

2 Days Before:

  • Apply a flu oil blend, Frankincense & basil to your knee (or wherever you are having surgery). This will help reduce inflammation in the area, protecting against toxins and bacteria or MRSA.

Day Before Surgery:

  • Do not eat or drink after midnight prior to surgery, including gum & mints
  • Meal prep/stock up on groceries (if you live alone, don’t have someone to help you around the clock or have a special diet). I heard Pineapple & Tumeric are great for inflammation! (not necessarily together)
  • Stock up on Ice for your ice machine – this is extremely important, as you will be changing out the ice in your ice machine every few hours for the next week or so. [Edit: My PT said to freeze small water bottles and use with a little bit of water instead of ice – this eliminates the need to constantly be changing out the ice all the time/having to store so much ice in your freezer.]

Day of Surgery:

  • Wear loose-fitting, comfortable clothes
  • Bring a small bag to put your insurance cards, photo ID & pain prescription in – this will be helpful to whoever is going to be picking up your prescription post-surgery

Arrival at Surgery Center:

  • Park in rear of building at “Surgery Patient” Parking and enter at the circle drive. The Surgery Institute is on the right when you walk in (These were instructions for where I was getting surgery)
  • Register at front desk with insurance card & photo ID
  • Fill out paperwork & consent forms
  • Meet with nurse & begin health assessment (if necessary – I had my doctor send over my most recent physical, so there was no need for this)
  • Change into gown & slippers
  • Meet with anesthesiologist/physiologist
  • Have nerve block administered (all of my friends that have gotten their ACL repaired said this is a MUST)
  • Chat with Doctor before going under anesthesia
  • Diffuse Frankincense and a flu oil blend in the room.  If they are do not allow (mine did not), make a small spritzer with a few drops of each and 2-3 tablespoons of water and spay your bed and area with the mixture. This will help kill bacteria/germs during/after your surgery.


  • Wake up in recovery room – plan to stay for 1-1.5 hours
  • Pick up prescription for pain medicine
  • Figure out a way to get up the stairs to your apartment that is on the second floor

Arriving home after the surgery:

  • Set up Ice machine
  • Depending on whether or not you got the nerve block/you begin to experience pain, take your pain medicine
  • Apply Cypress and Basil to the area of surgery. This will increase blood flow and circulation to the area, aiding healing.  If there is any excessive bleeding, you can apply Geranium or Helichrysum instead.
  • (If you can’t get to the (surgery area) because of cast, bandage, etc., rub on the opposite arm, leg, knee, etc. and the (injured area) will receive 65% of the benefit. This is called Sympathetic Response. The body understands where the essential oil is needed and will send the recovering (surgery area) what’s needed).
  • Diffuse Frankincense and a flu oil blend in the room several times per day.  If you do not have a diffuser, make a small spritzer bottle with a few drops of each and 2-3 tablespoons of water and spay your bed and area with the mixture several times per day
  • As soon as is possible after surgery, start the AromaTouch technique again doing it at least twice over the next week or more. This can help balance your nervous system and reduce the physiological impact of surgery trauma.

The Days Following Surgery (Advice I received from friends who have already undergone ACL reconstruction):

  • Ice!
  • As soon as the nerve block wears off/you feel your leg, begin quad squeezes!
    • Flex your quad & hold for 5-10 seconds. Do 10-20 squeezes every 30 minutes (set a timer!)
  • While icing, put pillows under your calf/ankle. Gravity will help pull your knee straight

Questions to ask your surgeon before going under the knife:

  • What type of graft will I be getting?
    • Patellar, hamstring or cadaver – see the differences here: (My doctor recommended hamstring with a little cadaver, before I did any research. If I had done my research beforehand, I would have chosen the same thing, or just a hamstring graft. It’s ultimately up to you on what you want!)
  • What type of screws will be used? (mine used bio-composite interference screws – it depends on the doctors preference. I just wanted to know out of curiosity – you can do your own research on what you would prefer)

Did! I miss anything? Please feel free to comment and add anything 🙂 I hope this is helpful for those preparing for their ACL/knee surgery!



The information I have provided is not intended to be used in place of professional medical advice. This is information that I have gathered on my own through a variety of sources, and if you decide to use/apply any of the ideas from my site, you are taking full responsibility for your actions. This information is not meant to diagnose or to treat any medical condition. Please consult with your primary care physician holistic doctor to diagnose/advise of any medical condition if you have any questions. I am not liable for any damages or negative consequences resulting from any action by any persons reading or following the information on this site.


14 Replies to “ACL Surgery”

  1. Thanks so much for this! I am having ACL surgery in a week and half. I’ve been working on strengthening my quad and hamstring as much as possible. I know I will be anxious to exercise and recover as soon as possible. I was wondering and hoping Yoga will be a viable option for me before I’m cleared to do other workouts. I do crossfit now and know it will be a few months out before I can get back there.

    Is there a specific site you recommend that lists the essential oils for recovery?

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi! Best of luck on your surgery… it sounds like your recovery will go really well with the work you have put into strengthening your leg! (bikram) yoga was the only exercise I felt I could do within the first few months following surgery (besides PT) that didn’t require a lot of side to side movements. As far as essentials oils, I mainly used my mom as a resource since she is a doterra consultant.. with that being said, there are a lot of blogs out there with essential oil tutorials for surgery – & are both good…. I also list the oils I used for my recovery in my ACL blog posts, which my mom chose based on her own research and knowledge. I hope this helps! I can look up some more info and send over to you if you’d like – just shoot me a note at info @ ninaeliseyoga(.)com.

  2. I just recently tore my ACL, my MCL and my meniscus doing gymnastics. I am going to have surgery in a couple of weeks because the MCL has to heal first. This information has been really helpful. I saw that you said you also tore you ACL in gymnastics. You also said you didn’t get surgery for another 8 years. Did you do gymnastics in this time? How did you deal with out an ACL for that long? And did you ever go back to gymnastics after your surgery?

    1. Hi Cassidy! I am sorry to hear about your ACL tear.. I am so glad my blog has been helpful! No, I did not do gymnastics after I tore my ACL. I mainly just ran – I did do a few trampoline classes, but my knee ended up buckling underneath me (That’s when I decided to finally get an MRI & surgery!). During the 8 years I didn’t have an ACL, I was just very careful. I didn’t know that my ACL was torn, just that my knee felt pretty unstable.
      I haven’t gone back to gymnastics since my surgery, but only because I am 28 now and don’t compete in highschool/college gymnastics! Otherwise, I would have gone back 🙂 Now I just do yoga, run, box, and do plyometric exercises. I had a handful of friends on my gymnastics team tear their ACL, and they all returned to the sport, no problem. They were level 7 all the way up to level 10, so they were able to come back after surgery & perform difficult skills.
      I hope this helps – If you have any other questions, please let me know! The uncertainty after the surgery is the scariest part, but since you are already active, you should have an awesome recovery 🙂

  3. Thank so much for the inspiration to go through this experience with such strength and positivity. I tore my ACL and medial meniscus playing basketball (and I’m not even an athlete). It has almost been 7 weeks and I am still not walking properly yet. Knee swells up if I do anything. I can straighten my leg and my knee flexion is between 90 and 100 degrees. I am thinking of doing the surgery to go back to normal life. Because I am close to 40, it will most likely be a cadaver graft. My question for you is did you do pre-operative exercises? Were you walking normally without a brace or without pain before the surgery? Do you have any yoga exercises I can do before surgery or to promote balance to aid with walking? I plan to pursue yoga after I get better and hope to travel to Ohio to book a session with you. Thank you.

    1. Hi Tina!
      I am sorry to hear about your torn ACL! No worries about the swelling, that is totally normal. I didn’t have an ACL for 8 years, and whenever my knee would buckle underneath me, my knee would be swollen for weeks after. I did wear a brace for a few days & elevated my knee as much as possible when that happened. I waited a few months after my knee gave out on me again to get the surgery, so I was even running a little bit & still working out pre-surgery. I also did bikram yoga since I could go at my own pace/only do the poses that felt comfortable for me (plus, the heat helped loosen up the muscles).
      My PT told me that doing a lot of hamstring, calf & quad strengthening exercises are beneficial for pre-surgery prep, as your muscles start to atrophy pretty quickly post-surgery (you will be laid up for the first week or 2). By strengthening your muscles as much as possible beforehand, you will at least have a good base to start with when you start your physical therapy post-surgery.
      balancing exercises: you can just stand on the ground with one foot off the ground (tree pose would be good to do) and hold for 1-2 minutes. You can move your arms around, or try to close your eyes. That should work a good amount of muscles in your ankles, calves, and hips/glutes. Take a slight bend in your standing leg so you are not hyper-extending & putting pressure on your knee.
      When is your surgery? I am traveling out of the country for the next few weeks, but I can put together a youtube video for you with some stretches & strengthening exercises as soon as I get back. Since I am not a physical therapist & haven’t seen you in person to see where you are at, I would recommend seeing a physical therapist who can give you a few strengthening exercises to help you prepare in the meantime.
      I would love to work with you one-on-one after your surgery! Yoga helped aid in a fast recovery for me post-surgery, and I love being able to help anyone else who has gone/is going through the same thing! Where do you currently live?
      I hope this helps, if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out – my email is

  4. Hi! I tore my ACL a few weeks ago skiing. I didn’t tear my miniscus but tore my MCL and have a little fracture on my bone. I’ve been a little bummed out because I’ve known people to have done this but never thought it could be me especially since I’m really athletic and active. I’m curious to find out how you tore your ACL and was it just your ACL?

    1. Hi! I am sorry to hear about your torn ACL! Normally really athletic people are the ones that tear their ACL… we are too active and end up doing riskier stuff than the average person! Your MCL should heal on it’s own without surgery, and fracture is normal (from what I understand). I only had a bruised bone, but that healed up when my ACL healed. I tore my ACL 9 years ago doing gymnastics (dismounting off the uneven bars). I also tore my meniscus as well, but it was a clean tear – my surgeon shaved it down a little instead of sewing it while he went in to repair my ACL. Are you going into surgery right away?

  5. Where did you get the information about “sympathetic response” that you noted about treating the opposite body part?

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