Typical 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.

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