Tens & ACL Exercises

Updated July 20, 2017

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, or TENS for short, is an electronic device used that can help control pain through impulses sent through the body through electrodes. Dealing with an ACL injury can be a lot of work but with a TENS machine during rehab, it becomes a less painful chore to help you get better.

ACL and the TENS

The Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is a major ligament located along the outside of the knee. In athletes, the ACL is considered the most common knee injury due to the strain the body already puts on it combined with physical activity.

After receiving surgery to repair the ACL, rehabilitation is one of the hardest and most excruciating times one will ever face. The use of the TENS during rehab will greatly help.

Physical Therapy

During physical therapy, a normal rehab session instructs the patient to learn the following: crutch walking, applying the brace that will be worn through the rest of the rehabilitation, range of motion exercises and leg exercises to help heal the injured area. During the range of motion and leg exercises, the TENS machine can be used to help with pain during the sessions.

For the best stimulation and pain relief for the ACL while using the TENS machine, you will place two electrodes at the top of the knee on the outside quadriceps and the inside quadriceps and turning the TENS on to your desired stimulation (The higher you turn it, the more electricity that will be sent through the electrodes).


The exercises a patient will do while rehabbing a torn ACL are very simple and require exercise one would normally do on an everyday basis. The first exercise is the range of motion exercise where you will begin by sitting at the edge of a table or chair and slowly try to bend your knee as far as you can move it until you begin to feel pain. Once you get to a point where you cannot go any further, slowly allow the leg to go back to its original position.

The next exercise is a simple walking exercise. Using two handrails very close together for support to hold yourself up, try to begin walking on both feet and using the handrails for support when you begin to feel pain in your recently repaired leg. Try and get as far across as you can before turning back to help the knee regain its mobility.

One thing to remember is to not exhaust the ACL when rehabilitating it. The ACL, like any other body part, needs to rest before it can get better and trying to over exercise will cause much more damage to it.

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About the Author

Ben LeDoux is a student at Front Range Community College in Westminster, Colo., where he writes for the "Front Page Newspaper." A Denver native, LeDoux has written for over 10 years for various blogs, creative writing sites and school newspapers. For more of his work, please visit