If you have suffered an ACL injury:
…Undergoing surgery and rehabilitation can restore the use of your knee in time.
…Work toward certain goals before preparing to play again.
…Work with a sports physical therapist to recover faster and prevent future injuries.
When you have suffered a sports-related injury, one of the biggest questions on your mind is, “When can I compete again?” You know you need time to heal before playing again, but it’s natural to be impatient during recovery.
One of the most severe sports injuries is a tear to the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL. The complexity of this injury can make it difficult for athletes and their physicians to determine when to return to sports again safely.
While surgery and rehabilitation for ACL tears have improved over the years, there is still always a question of when and if an athlete can bounce back and return to their previous performance.
If you have suffered an ACL tear and are wondering when you can return to your sport, here are some things to keep in mind about recovery and what it will take to prove you are ready to (cautiously) jump back into the game.
Surgery is a standard treatment for athletes who want to return to their sport after an ACL injury. Arthroscopic surgery, paired with rigorous rehabilitation, can restore the knee’s stability and protect the ligaments from further damage. In most cases, athletes eventually can return to their former level of activity and performance. The only question is when.
Unfortunately, there’s no set timeline for when patients recover from ACL surgery. A full year is realistic, but there are many factors at play. Instead of expecting to recover within a specific timeframe, athletes instead should work toward certain benchmarks that indicate they are regaining proper function and strength for competing again.
As your knee regains and improves in function, you and your doctor can monitor your progress based on several factors to determine at what point you are ready to return to your previous level of activity:
…No remaining swelling.
…Your normal range of motion, stability and strength restored.
…No new ligament tears.
…You can hop on one foot for a certain distance three times on each leg with the injured leg performing as well as the other one.
…You can jump normally.
…You can run as before with proper knee position and equal weight on each leg.
…The knee does not collapse during stopping and starting, pivoting, or cutting.
Your doctor may have other ways to test your readiness to compete again. But once you can prove that you have normal function in your injured knee, you can begin a program to reintroduce yourself back to your sport and start practicing to play again.
After all, you had to develop your endurance and technique when you first began playing. Suffering an injury like an ACL tear and taking time to rehabilitate is like pushing the reset button. Trying to play without conditioning yourself for your sport can lead to a repeat injury.
One of the ways you can condition your body for your sport again is to work with a sports physical therapist during rehabilitation from surgery and in preparation to play again.
During rehabilitation, your physical therapist will help you use exercises and other methods to control the pain and swelling from surgery while gradually restoring your knee’s range of motion. As your recovery progresses, you’ll move on to strengthening regimens and agility drills. Finally, you can begin sports-specific training to prepare your body to perform your sport again.
Along the way, your physical therapist also will teach you about the mechanics of your sport and how to use proper warm-up techniques and good form to prevent future injuries. Repeat ACL tears are common within the first two years of returning to sports, but with proper rehabilitation and education from a sports physical therapist, you can safely return to your game and reduce the risk of another injury.
At True Sports, we’re sports focused because you’re sports focused. The best physical therapists in Baltimore and Maryland provide the highest level of sports physical therapy and expertise you need to get back to your sport.
With six convenient state-of-the-art locations to choose from, any athlete who takes their rehab seriously can get awesome care and extraordinary results. Select your location and schedule an appointment, and have True Sports get you back to your team.
For questions about insurance or self-pay rates, please call our office at (401) 946-1672.