Post-Surgical ACL Reconstruction Rehabilitation Schedule

Weeks 1-2:

  • Range of Motion exercises
  • Regain full extension of the knee.
  • Walking
  • Gentle strengthening
  • Aerobic work (stationary bike; this improves strengthening and movement in the joint).
  • Weeks 3-6:

    As motion increases, emphasis is shifted to strengthening
  • Balance and proprioceptive exercises.
  • Some sport-specific activities can be started, but it is dependent on having near normal motion and swelling gone in the knee.
  • Weeks 7-12:

  • Light jogging, cycling outdoors, and pool workouts.
  • Side-to-side, pivoting sports -- such as basketball, soccer and football -- must be avoided.
  • Toward the end of this phase, some athletes can begin shuttle runs, lateral shuttles and jumping rope.

    Months 4-7:

    Continued progression with sports specific activities. This phase of rehabilitation is often the most difficult, because patients may have a knee that "feels" normal, but is not ready for the stresses of some sport activities. Emphasis of rehabilitation should be on sport simulating activities.

  • Figure-of-eight drills and plyometrics, and over time will include sport drills. For example, a tennis player may start light hitting, a soccer player some controlled dribbling, etc.
  • Weightbearing Status

  • 0-2 weeks: Touch down weight bearing with two crutches.
  • 2-4 weeks: Partial weight bearing.
  • 4-6 weeks: Weight bearing as tolerated.
  • Return to Sports:

    Deciding when to return to unrestricted sports activities depends on a number of factors:

    Functional Progression

    The decision to return to sports must be based on each individual's progression through their therapy.

    Graft Type

    Some surgeons may delay return to sports if the graft used came from a donor. These grafts are sterilized and frozen, there is a belief that they take longer to heal well inside the patient.

    *Based upon these guidelines, which differ from surgeon to surgeon, it is apparent that progression is slow, and return to sport and activity is 7 months, at a MINIMUM.