When is it safe to return to running after knee surgery?

Most of our clients are itching to get back to running after their knee surgery, such as ACL reconstruction and meniscectomies. Who can blame them, runners want to run! However, athletes need to be cautious about returning to running too soon as there is a risk of re-injury. So, when is it safe to return to running after knee surgery? Our return to sport expert, Helen Cortes, PTA, is here to tell ya! Keep reading!

The 6 Return to Running Tests

Many factors play into our decision to clear a client to return to running after knee surgery (including time, type of surgery, objective data on the range, swelling, and tissue integrity at the knee).

In addition, there are 6 tests our clients have to pass to start a Return-to-Running program(*): 

  1. Quads Limb Symmetry Index (LSI) > 70%. 
    • LSI = [quad strength of the operated leg/quad strength of the non-operated leg]*100
    • At Runners’ Edge we use a device called a dynamometer to measure the peak force generated by the muscle group being tested (quads, hamstrings, etc.).
  2. Single Leg Squat > 15 reps
  3. Single Leg Bridges (with foot on elevated surface) > 20 reps
  4. Single Leg Heel Raise > 20 reps 
  5. Vertical Hops > 15reps 
  6. Forward Hops > 15 reps 

(*)These tests must be performed with proper form and without signs of fatigue.

Click the gallery below to see how these tests are performed! 

Regaining Quad Strength

Regaining full quad strength is key to safely returning athletes to running and sports after knee surgery. 

  • Research shows that for every 1% difference in LSI (relative quad strength) the risk of re-injury when returning to sport increases by 3% (when the LSI is < 90%).
  • So, for example, if an athlete returns to sport when the operated quads are only 80% as strong as the non operated quads, they are 30% more likely to re-injure their knee over the next 2 years.

After extensive surgery, money spent, and time taken off from running and sports, this is not a risk we are willing to take! 

How can we speed up the healing and strength building process?

One way to accelerate muscle strength gains and LSI scores is by using Blood Flow Restriction Training (BFR). 

BFR training can help a client make greater strength gains while lifting lighter loads, which is perfect for those who have restrictions as far as how much stress a limb can undergo following knee surgery. 

Read more about BFR HERE

Our ability to use BFR during the PT sessions helps clients maximize strength gains so they are ready and SAFE to return to sports quicker.

PB

Returning safely to running is a progression

Once a client is cleared, it doesn’t mean they should jump right back into a full running training plan. Our PTs are running specialists and will help progress you safely back to your running goals. 

Once cleared to return to running after knee surgery, be sure to read our FREE Return to Running E-book

Return to Running Ebook Cover

Are you recovering from, or preparing for knee surgery?

Our therapists are experts at getting runners back to running after surgery! 

Give us a call or schedule a FREE discovery session today to learn how PT can help you get back to what you love… Running! 

Written by: 
Helen Cortes, PTA
ACL & Return to Sport Specialist 

Helen Cortes pic
logo
AUTHOR

Runners' Edge Alaska

"We Empower Active Alaskans Of All Ages To Return To The Activities They Love Safely And Efficiently…For Life"
master runner
knee pain
Archives

Now Offering In-Clinic, Mobile, and Telehealth Appointments for Your Convenience.

884A5123 TJOHNSON

Sports Physical Therapy

We know how frustrating it can be to deal with pain or other conditions that you just can’t seem to find relief from. That’s why we offer physical therapy for specific conditions and pain problems to help you finally feel good again. 

Strength and Conditioning DSC06859 TJOHNSON

Sports Performance

Highly specialized strength and conditioning programs led by a Sports PT and Strength and Conditioning Specialist to target your performance goals. We offer training options for individuals and for groups/teams as well as community classes! 

DSC07129 TJOHNSON

Sports Massage

Recognizing the challenges of muscle tension and physical strain, our sports massage therapy is crafted for athletes and individuals seeking relief. Experience targeted techniques to alleviate tightness, enhance flexibility, and rediscover the joy of a revitalized, balanced body.

Meet The Team at Runners' Edge Alaska

At Runners’ Edge, we work as a team. Each team player has roles, but we are here to help each other succeed and work together to provide the highest level of care possible to our clients. We strive to grow as individuals as well as a company. And that is what sets us apart from other clinics. This is us!

runners edge team photo (1)

Wondering If Physical Therapy Is Right For You?

Free Discovery Session

We realize some people may be unsure if our services are right for them. Click on the button below and one of our team members will call to schedule a free Discovery Session.

Ask A PT A Question

If you’re not quite ready to book an appointment yet, or maybe you have some questions you would like answered first. Please click the button below to request to speak with a PT first.

Ask About Availability & Cost

We understand you may want to find out a little more about the availability & cost of physical therapy before booking an appointment. If that sounds like you, click the button below.

Get Your Free Tips Report: Running Performance

master runner
Mastering the Master Runner: Tips and Tricks to Maximize Running Perfomance

We guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared.

Marketing by
Privacy Policy: We guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will NOT be shared.

Get Your Free Tips Report: Knee Pain

knee pain
7 Ways to Ease Knee Pain

We guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will not be shared.

Marketing by
Privacy Policy: We guarantee 100% privacy. Your information will NOT be shared.