ACL injury

When Can You Return to Sports After an ACL Injury?

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.

What Is the Treatment and Recovery Timeline?

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.

How to Know You’re Ready to Play 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.

Work With a Physical Therapist

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.

True Sports Physical Therapy – Where Maryland Athletes Rehab

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.

When Can You Return to Sports After an ACL Injury?

Read more

Shoulder Injuries are Common in Golfers

Read more

3 Common Upper Body Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes and How to Avoid Them

Read more

Knee Weakness: Get Relief + Build Strength with These 3 Home Exercises

Read more

What Can Athletes Do About Quad Shut Down?

Read more

Does Strength Prevent Injury?

Read more

True Sports Coronavirus Response

Read more

Lacrosse Injuries – The 5 Most Common with 7 Tips to Prevent them

Read more

Exercising While Wearing a Mask: Common Misconceptions

Read more

Why Elite Community Servants Need Physical Therapy STAT

Read more

Training with a CrossFit Physical Therapist Helps Avoid Common Injuries

Read more

One Major Tip for Making Your Diet a Success

Read more

The 7 Biggest Benefits of Physical Therapy

Read more

Overtraining: 7 Symptoms and What You Can Do About It Today

Read more

Dry Needling Therapy, Blood Flow Restriction, & Cupping: Does It Work for Athletes?

Read more

Shouldering the Blame for Shoulder Pain: Arthritis or Bursitis?

Read more

Why There is No Such Thing as an Off Season

Read more

Recovering from Spinal Surgery: What You Need to Know

Read more

How to Treat the Most Common Sports-Related Shoulder Injuries

Read more

The Cold Hard Facts About ACL Tear Risk Factors

Read more

Improve Your Running Form with These 8 Tips

Read more

How to Handle a Sports-Related Knee Injury

Read more

What’s Up With Barefoot Running?

Read more

How to Prevent Shoulder Impingement as an Overhead Athlete

Read more

Physical Therapy Guide for Hamstring Injuries

Read more

Knee Injuries from Soccer: Preventing Them with 3 Knee Strengthening Exercises

Read more

Gait Analysis – A Runner’s Secret Weapon Against Injury

Read more

Maximizing Your Post Injury Outcomes

Read more

4 Tips to Avoid Knee Injuries While Skiing

Read more

Don’t Let Lower Back Pain Keep You Off the Links

Read more

The Most Common Lacrosse Injuries

Read more

How Long Will My Physical Therapy Take?

Read more

The Unsung Hero of Pain Management: Nutrition

Read more

Care and Feeding of Pitchers in the Off-Season

Read more

What Can I Expect After Rotator Cuff Surgery?

Read more

3 Ways You Can Prevent Knee Injuries and Weakness

Read more

Experiencing Pain? See a Physical Therapist First

Read more

Can Athletes Benefit from Hip Arthroscopy?

Read more

High School Sports After the COVID-19 Pandemic: Returning Safely to the Game

Read more

Dry Needling: 6 Benefits To Help You Relieve Body Pain & Soreness In 1-2 Days

Read more

The Importance of a Strong Core

Read more

Golf Injuries – The 5 Most Common with 3 Tips & Stretches

Read more

Why Do We Need Sleep? (And More to the Point — How Do We Get It?)

Read more

What Athletes Need for the Ultimate Sports PT Facility

Read more

How You Can Avoid Germs at the Gym

Read more

An Awesome Inforgraphic About Lower Back Pain and Sports

Read more

How Common are Shoulder Injuries in Athletics?

Read more

Cupping Therapy: 4 Benefits & How It Can Relieve Pain Within 48 Hours

Read more

Strengthen Your Biceps With These 5 Home Workouts

Read more

7 Workout Mistakes Your Physical Therapist Doesn’t Want You to Make

Read more

Why You Should Go to Physical Therapy

Read more

Why True Sports Physical Therapy is Right For You

Read more

Is It An Ache or Am I Injured?

Read more

Groin Strains Symptoms and Treatments

Read more

Are You Ready for Golf Season?

Read more

How Athletes Avoid Knee Injuries When Competing, Practicing, Training or Working Out

Read more

How to Relieve Lower Back Pain as an Athlete

Read more

Quick Tips for Staying Motivated

Read more

Relieve Muscle Soreness With These 5 Tips

Read more

How Baseball Players Can Reduce Their Risk of UCL Injury

Read more

Cupping Therapy Relieves Pain and Encourages Healing

Read more

Physical Therapist vs Chiropractor: What's the Difference?

Read more

Some Thoughts Before Football Season

Read more

High School Sports Injuries

Read more

Is Blood Flow Restriction Training Right for You?

Read more

Staying Limber During Your Internship

Read more

What Athletes Should Know About Tendinopathy In the Shoulder

Read more

Meal Planning Tips for High School Athletes

Read more

Dry Needling vs Acupuncture: What’s The Difference?

Read more

What are Achilles Tendon Conditions Signs and Symptoms?

Read more

How to Relieve Sciatica Pain with Physical Therapy

Read more

How to Deadlift and Squat without Risking Lower Back Injury

Read more

Preventing the Most Common Lacrosse Injuries

Read more

Graston Technique 101

Read more

Is Stress Causing Your Lower Back Pain?

Read more

Get Knee Pain Relief With These 3 Stretches

Read more

Advice You Need to Train for a Marathon in 2021

Read more

Impact of Correct Posture on Sports Performance

Read more

The Risks of a Sedentary Lifestyle – Enough To Get You Moving

Read more

Make Your Outpatient Rehab Count

Read more

Relieve Back Pain Fast In 5 Ways

Read more

5 Tips to Improve & Maximize Your Athletic Performance

Read more

Physical Therapy: Why It’s Important Both Before and After Surgery

Read more

Is Elbow Arthritis Ruining Your Game?

Read more

Working from Home Shouldn’t Be a Pain in the Neck — or Back

Read more

Dry Needling Can Accelerate Recovery for Athletes

Read more

Join Volo City & Build Community Through Your Favorite Sport

Read more

Tips for Avoiding Running Injuries

Read more

6 Ways a Physical Therapist Can Enhance Your Running Performance

Read more

Attending Physical Therapy During COVID-19: Is It Safe?

Read more

Resistance Training is Important

Read more

Benefits of Sport Specific Rehabilitation

Read more

Benefits of Training with a Strength Coach

Read more

5 Tips for Preventing Wrestling Injuries

Read more

Non-Surgical Injury Treatment Options for Athletes

Read more

Sign up to our Newsletter

Get appointment updates, practical and actionable health + fitness tips, blog news, and True Sports announcements delivered straight to your inbox. No spam.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.