When can my daughter return to soccer after ACL surgery?

Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction takes about six months of rehabilitation until an athlete can be cleared to play in a contact sport. This time frame can vary based on how the athlete responds to the rehabilitation treatment. It is a long process, and the athlete must stick to the rehabilitation protocol to seek the best results. At the beginning of rehabilitation, it is important to decrease pain and inflammation and increase range of motion of the knee. Once the swelling is controlled and most of the motion is back, your daughter can start strengthening exercises. She will also work on her balance and proprioception.

Usually around four months post-operation, if the athlete has good balance, proprioception, and strength, they can start a running program. They will then progress to a plyometric and jumping program and eventually be able to participate in their sport.

It is also important that you know that each surgeon has their own rehabilitation protocol that they want their patients to follow. This, too, will have an effect on the time frame to return to sport. It is imperative that the athletic trainer and physical therapist have good communication with the physician to help the athlete along the rehabilitation process.

(This answer provided for NATA by the King College Athletic Training Education Program.)

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.