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Massage Techniques for a Damaged ACL

author image Jesse Barthel
Jesse Barthel has been writing professionally since 2008 with expertise on the topics of Autism-related treatments, green culture and alternative medicine. She is currently attending Daytona State College in Palm Coast, Fla., working toward an Associate of Applied Science in marine biology.
Massage Techniques for a Damaged ACL
Massage therapy is a component of many ACL-injury rehabilitation plans. Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images

A damaged or torn anterior cruciate ligament is a very painful condition in which the ligament that connects the thigh bone to the shin bone of your lower leg tears and can no longer stabilize the kneecap. Medical attention is needed for an ACL injury, as well as physical therapy. One aspect of the physical rehabilitation is massage therapy.

How Massage Therapy Can Help

According to the Mayo Clinic, massage therapy techniques have the ability to reduce swelling, increase circulation and joint mobility, as well decrease pain. Massage therapy is generally considered safe by the medical community, and recognized as an effective complementary treatment for many chronic muscle and joint problems.

Palpitation Technique

With your leg outstretched and parallel to the floor, place the middle and index finger of each hand on either side of the damaged knee approximately 1/2-inch down from your kneecap. Rub the area in a small, steady circular motion for 2 to 3 minutes at a time. This will help loosen the undamaged tendons and ligaments that are over-compensating for the injured ACL. This technique also reduces fluid retention in the knee area.

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Cross-Friction on the Patella Technique

This massage technique involves creating mild friction on the frontal ligaments of the knee. You will need another person to help with this technique. Sit comfortably on the floor or another flat surface. Slowly pull your injured knee up toward your chest while keeping your foot flat on the ground. Once your knee is bent in a natural position, the other person should place all four fingers of each hand on either side of your knee. Have him place both thumbs just under the front of your kneecap and apply moderate pressure. Begin moving the thumbs from side to side simultaneously for 1 minute.

Roll Massage

For this technique, you will need to be seated on a chair with your knees bent. Carefully lift the leg that has the injured knee and place your ankle on your good knee. Position the palms of your hands on each side of your knee, and gently wrap your fingers around the front of your knee, just above your shin. Begin sliding your fingers backward across the skin, and the forward again creating a rolling motion with your hands. Continue the exercise for 2 to 3 minutes.


Knee injuries are delicate and susceptible to further damage if not treated properly. If you have suffered from a new injury of any sort, it's important to speak with a qualified health professional to come up with a proper course of treatment for your injury.

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