How to Return to Sport After ACL Repair with Physical Therapy

How to Return to Sport After ACL Repair with Physical Therapy

ACL injuries are the most commonly injured ligament in the knee accounting for almost half of all knee injuries. Each year in the United States, it’s estimated that 1 in 3,500 people will experience an ACL injury. These injuries happen from pivoting and impact, which make ACL injuries one of the most common sport-related injuries. 

At Lighthouse Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine in Spokane, WA, we understand the challenges athletes face when recovering from ACL repair. Our specialized programs are designed to help you return to your sport safely and effectively. 

How Our Physical Therapists Treat ACL Injuries in Spokane, WA

In the early stages post-surgery, the focus is on reducing pain and swelling while gradually restoring range of motion. Key exercises and treatments include:

  • Passive Range of Motion (PROM) Exercises: These help maintain joint flexibility without stressing the healing tissue.
  • Isometric Exercises: Such as quad sets and straight leg raises to maintain muscle engagement without excessive movement.
  • Cold Therapy: To reduce inflammation and manage pain effectively.

As you progress, strengthening the muscles around the knee is crucial to provide stability and support:

  • Closed Kinetic Chain Exercises: Exercises like mini squats and step-ups can improve functional strength.
  • Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) Therapy: This innovative technique accelerates muscle growth and strength without heavy loads, making it ideal for post-surgical recovery​.
  • Balance and Proprioception Training: Using tools like balance boards and stability balls help improve joint stability and coordination.


Before you return to full participation in your sport, we ensure you meet all necessary criteria:

  • Functional Testing: Assessments like hop tests and strength tests to ensure your knee is capable of handling sport-specific activities.
  • Gradual Return to Sport: Implementing a phased approach where you start with non-contact drills before progressing to full-contact play.

Prevent ACL Injuries with Lighthouse’s Bulletproof Method

To help athletes prevent ACL injuries, we’ve developed the Bulletproof Method. This program is backed by research and tailored to meet the unique needs of each athlete. 

By focusing on comprehensive assessment, personalized training and ongoing monitoring, we help athletes stay in peak condition and minimize their risk of ACL injuries. We use DorsaVi Technology for real-time biomechanical assessments so that we can address any dysfunctional movement patterns. 

Athletes participating in the Bulletproof Method will also be given higher-intensity exercises from our personal trainer that can strengthen surrounding muscles around the knee and prevent future ACL injury. Here are a few exercises we may incorporate:

  • Agility Drills: Such as ladder drills and cone drills to enhance speed and directional changes.
  • Plyometric Exercises: Including box jumps and depth jumps to build explosive power.
  • Sport-Specific Training: Tailored exercises that replicate the movements and stresses of your particular sport to ensure you’re ready for real-game scenarios.


bulletproof injury prevention

Overview of Physical Therapy for ACL Injuries in Spokane, WA

Here we break down the components of the ACL rehab process at Lighthouse Physical Therapy:

  • Initiation of Active ROM and Utilization of Blood Flow Restriction: Active range of motion (ROM) exercises are initiated early to restore joint flexibility. Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) therapy is used to prevent muscle loss and promote strength gains even when traditional weightlifting isn’t possible.
  • Activation of the Quadriceps and Muscular Strengthening Using BFR: We focus on activating the quadriceps to regain muscle function. BFR therapy continues to be utilized for enhancing muscle hypertrophy and strength without overloading the surrounding knee tissue.
  • Assessment Using DorsaVi to Determine Mechanical Issues: DorsaVi technology is employed to assess mechanical issues that may lead to a heightened risk of ACL tears, ensuring personalized treatment plans​.
  • Optimization of Movement Mechanics: Exercises and drills are tailored to correct movement patterns, reducing the risk of re-injury and enhancing overall performance.
  • Initiation of Return To Sport (RTS) Programming: Gradual progression into sport-specific drills and exercises. Functional testing to ensure readiness for return to full sports participation.

Why Choose Lighthouse Physical Therapy for ACL Rehab?

As a leader in Sports Medicine in Spokane, WA, Lighthouse Physical Therapy is dedicated to providing personalized care tailored to your unique needs. With our two clinic locations, we are conveniently located to serve the greater Spokane area.

Ready to start your journey back to your sport? Let us help you achieve your recovery goals and get back in the game stronger than ever!

Schedule a consultation with Lighthouse Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine at (509) 928-3443 or fill our appointment request from here.