Sport-Specific Knee Rehab after ACL surgery:
A glimpse into what your physical therapy SHOULD look like if you’re an athlete.
By Dr. Morgan Springer
So you tore your ACL, you underwent major surgery to reconstruct your ACL (and maybe more), and you head off to physical therapy like your doctor told you to. You are on the right track!
Fast forward 6 months (give or take) and you get discharged from PT. But now you’re wondering “Was I ready? Did they test me for readiness for return to sport (soccer, football, basketball, running)? How do I go back to playing my sport after these intense knee injuries? Would I really be able to keep my knee out of danger?”
If you are questioning your strength, readiness to return, or have a lack confidence in your knee… you should not have been discharged from PT. Here are a few reasons why:
Why you shouldn’t be discharged from PT at 6 months or earlier:
- According to research, you will have better outcomes if you wait at least 9 months to return to sport following ACL reconstruction.
- People who return too early have a 20-30% reinjury rate on the same or opposite side.
- Reinjury risk is significantly reduced by 51% for each month return to sport is delayed until 9 months after surgery.
- If your strength is not where it should be, you risk putting your knee joint under increased stress. Your limb strength should be at LEAST 90% in comparison to your nonoperative side.
- Neuromuscular training and reactionary testing boost a person’s confidence in their knee stability.
Your physical therapy should address your goals (no matter how long it takes) and you should be specifically tested for those goals before you graduate so you can have a safe return!
We’re talking about strength training, back squatting, single-leg limb strength, jumping/landing patterns, power output, endurance, limb comparison side to side, and so much more. If your PT didn’t test the following measures, please come get them tested. Don’t gamble with the re-injury risks.
Important Measures for ACL-Reconstructed Knees
- Objective muscular strength tests
- Hop tests
- Y Balance test
- Movement screens
- Reactionary tests
- Neuromuscular control
If you don’t feel a confident readiness for return to sport or want to make sure you are appropriately tested for those demands, come see us. We want to make sure you are prepared and feel confident to return to your previous activity level! Let us bridge the gap between traditional PT and your return to the gym/court/field.
Return to Sports Rehab with Emphasis on Strength, right here in Nashville & Franklin, TN
Whether you are just a few days out of surgery, or are 6 to 12 months post-surgery and want to ensure you’re ready to perform at a high level, please reach out to us at Be Ready Performance Therapy. Schedule a call to learn more or visit our web home.
Rehabilitation and Return to Sport Testing After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction: Where Are We in 2022? By Gokeler, Dingenen & Hewett
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rehabilitation and Return to Sport: How Fast is Too Fast? By Waldron, Brown, Calderon & Feldman
Young Athletes Who Return to Sport Before 9 Months After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Have a Rate of New Injury 7 Times That of Those Who Delay Return by Beischer, Gustavsson, et al