When can I start running after my ACL reconstruction surgery?
Torn your ACL? Just had an ACL reconstruction surgery? Keen to return to running? When and how can I return to running? Is it safe?
These are some common (and good!) questions that we hear and receive in the clinic after someone has torn their ACL or had it reconstructed.
To the uninitiated, the anterior cruciate ligament, better known at the ACL, sits in your knee, and it maintains the stability in your knees as your run, jump, land and turn. The ACL is a commonly injured ligament in sports where it involves lots of turning and twisting.
Back to the topic.
Can you return to running after an ACL/R? The short answer: yes you can! But how? And when?
Post ACL/R (R for reconstruction), your Physiotherapist will aim to establish full knee movement, reduce pain and swelling while concurrently working on the strength in your knee.
Traditionally, most Physiotherapist will use a time-based criteria to help you Return To Running (RTR), and in most cases, between 10-16 weeks post ACL/R. But there is no universal timeline to return to RTR. For many patients, it might be reasonable to expect readiness to RTR around the 8th–16th postoperative weeks, provided there is adequate loading and strength.
How do I know if it’s safe to start running?
Some other factors that we will take into consideration before we start you off on the treadmill is:
- A low pain score of <3/10 where 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain.
- The ability to achieve 95% knee bend when compared to the unaffected knee
- Full knee extension (that is just a big word for straightness of the knee) and
- No swelling
Your Physiotherapist may choose to use a battery of tests for individualised clinical decision-making regarding Return To Running (RTR) including:
Performance-based assessments, with focus on dynamic knee control i.e. a single leg step down, and
Quantitative performance-based assessments such as a single leg sit and stand test
This information will give not only your Physiotherapist confidence that you are ready to Return To Running (RTR), but it will also give you the assurance and confidence that your hard work has paid off and now, you’re in the next milestone of your ACL/R rehabilitation journey!
So, yes! You will be able to return to running after an ACL reconstruction. However, certain tests must be done to make sure that the return to sports is done safely.
Book now or give us a call to schedule an appointment to see our Physiotherapist who will be able to partner you to recovery after your ACL reconstruction. Learn more about our post surgery care here.
DISCLAIMER: These advise and exercises should not replace the need for a consultation with a Physiotherapist especially if your condition doesn’t improve. Therapeutic exercise should be carefully selected to suit your condition.
- Rambaud, A. J., Ardern, C. L., Thoreux, P., Regnaux, J. P., & Edouard, P. (2018). Criteria for return to running after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: a scoping review. British journal of sports medicine, 52(22), 1437-1444.
Filed under: Knee