At our orthopedic practice, we treat a lot of patients suffering from sports-related knee injuries. We understand the frustration and challenges associated with knee injuries that prevent you from participating in sports. Such injuries can be daunting, but with the right approach and guidance, returning to your favorite activity is usually achievable. Here are some expert tips on how to safely return to sports and physical activity after you’ve received treatment for sport-related knee injuries.

Getting Treatment for Your Knee Injury

Before diving into recovery tips, it’s essential to point out that the unique nature of your knee injury will determine both the treatment plan and your recovery experience. Your knee injury will require specific treatment and rehabilitation strategies tailored to your unique situation. Whether you have a torn ACL, torn PCL, meniscus tear, or other knee injury, consulting with an orthopedic surgeon is crucial for accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment plans. And of course, it is essential that you undergo the recommended treatment for your injury to have the best chance for a full, healthy recovery. 

Carefully Observe Post-Surgery Rehabilitation Steps

Many sports-related knee injuries require surgery to repair the damage. Following knee surgery, rehabilitation with physical therapy plays a pivotal role in restoring strength, flexibility, and function to your injured knee. Your rehabilitation program will most likely include a combination of range of motion activities and strengthening exercises. It’s important to adhere to your rehabilitation protocol diligently under the guidance of a qualified physical therapist or healthcare professional.

Remember Patience

Patience is key during the recovery process. While you’re probably eager to return to your pre-injury activity level, progressing too quickly could lead to setbacks or re-injury. Start with low-impact activities such as swimming or indoor stationary cycling to gradually rebuild strength and endurance in your recovering knee. As your symptoms improve and your knee becomes stronger, you should be able to gradually introduce higher-impact activities such as jogging or sports-specific drills until you’re ready to return to your preferred sports activity. Each step of the way, be sure to check with your physical therapist and your orthopedic surgeon before you start or resume any new activities.

Listen to Your Body

Your knee will give you the most guidance on when it’s ready to resume certain movements or activities. Pay close attention to any symptoms of pain, swelling, or instability during physical activity, as these are valuable indicators of how your knee is tolerating the demands placed upon it. If you experience any discomfort or other unpleasant symptoms, please don’t ignore them or try to push through the pain. Instead, modify your activity level to prevent these symptoms and consult with your orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist for further guidance.

Utilize Supportive Equipment If Recommended

Depending on the nature of your knee injury and the stage of your recovery, supportive equipment such as knee braces or compression sleeves may be recommended as a part of your recovery. These provide added stability and protection to your knee joint during physical activity so that you do not re-injure it. If your orthopedic surgeon or physical therapist has recommended supportive equipment for your injured knee, be sure to use it as recommended so that you will be able to safely resume physical activity.

Maintain a Versatile Exercise Routine

Incorporating a variety of exercises into your exercise routine will help promote overall strength, flexibility, and balance, all of which are essential for knee health and re-injury prevention. Include activities that target not only the muscles surrounding the knee but also those of the hips, core, and lower extremities. A variety of exercises will make sure that all the muscles, bones, and soft tissues of your legs are strong and work well in tandem so that no one joint (such as your knee) is put under too much strain. Cross-training can also help reduce the risk of overuse injuries by varying the types of stresses placed on your joints.

Recovering from a sports-related knee injury requires patience, dedication, and a comprehensive rehabilitation approach. Following these tips and working closely with your healthcare team will give you the best chance of being able to safely resume the sports activities you love and minimize the risk of re-injury. Remember, your journey to recovery is unique, so listen to your body and your recovery team and progress at a pace that feels right for you.

If you’ve suffered a knee injury, we can help you get the treatment and rehabilitation you need to get you back to the sports you love. To schedule a consultation with one of our orthopedic surgeons, call (714) 538-8549 or contact us online today.

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