ACL Tears

Returning To Work And Activities After ACL Surgery

These are the general guidelines for returning to work and returning to sports following ACL surgery. There is great variation in the time span needed for each individual.

Returning To Work

Returning to work will depend on the physical nature of the activity:

  • If your job involves sitting down, some surgeons may allow return to work as soon as a week after surgery.
  • If your job requires standing, it may be four to six weeks before return to work is recommended.
  • If your job requires lifting moderate loads or climbing activities, recovery time may need to be as long as two to four months.

Return To Sports

Expect to be able to…

  • Jog at four months
  • Road cycle at four to five months
  • Run in a straight line at five months
  • Perform agility drills such as figure eight’s, as well as light cutting using the functional brace, at around six to eight months

To achieve this successfully, you need to stick with the rehab program arranged by your surgeon and physical therapist.

Sports-specific changes may be initiated anywhere from four to 24 months, depending upon the physician’s protocol.

Nice To Know:

A rule of thumb in returning to sports activities following ACL surgery is that the injured leg should have 85 to 90 percent of the quadriceps and hamstring strength compared to the pre-surgical level. 

This is determined by the physical therapist or physician using simple strength tests called isokinetic tests.


Q: What kind of brace will I be using when I return to my sport after rehabilitation?

A: There are several types of braces on the market that protect the knee joint. They are all relatively light and user friendly. One important aspect some ACL braces have is that in order to unload stress on the ACL graft, the sequence of fastening the straps of the brace (usually four or five) is very important.

Q: I like to snow and water ski. Can I still do these activities after ACL reconstruction?

A: Unless the surgeon advises otherwise, most people return to enjoying both of these sports with the use of a brace. However, remember every individual injury is different. Following the recommendations of the surgeon is of utmost importance.

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