Return to Sports: How to know when you're ready after a knee injury.


Author: Bryan Lang, PT, DPT, MHA, CSCS, Cert.DN: Doctor of Physical Therapy, Business Owner, Associate Professor, and Blog Contributor. Explores common client questions, helps find solutions for every day functional health concerns, and interprets difficult theories in healthcare rehabilitation. Committed to life-long learning and education. Learn more about Bryan on Google+.


It's hard to know when to know when to get back into playing the sport you love after a knee injury. Whether it is a small strain, or something that required a surgery, it's always a fine line between promoting activity, and pushing on the breaks to reduce future re-injury. 

Guidelines are very helpful to assisting with knowing when someone is officially ready to return to sporting events. I can't stress enough how important it is to be evaluated by someone who knows what to look for. There have been recent studies showing that people who have had an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tear have an increased risk of tearing their other ACL after surgery. This is because they thought they were ready to resume all of their normal activities when, in reality, there were still some significant discrepancies that the people were unaware of. 

Below are a few tests that we use in physical therapy to evaluate if someone is ready to return to sport. It's not necessarily whether or not the task can be completed, but how good the quality is of the task that was completed. Was the task performed just as well as the uninjured knee? Did the person performing the test have any apprehension or pain? Were all movements controlled and did the person display proper shock absorption though their entire body? Theses are all questions that are answered in physical therapy by assessing certain tests and measures. 

1. Star Excursion Balance Test

2. The Double Leg jump

3. The Double Leg Triple Jump

4. Single Leg Triple Jump

5. Zig Zag Single Leg Jumps

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