Is it time to develop specific return to running criteria for ACL rehabilitation? An international survey of physiotherapists criteria for return to running following ACL injury

Sayer, T. A., Melick, N. van, Riera, J., Jackson, J., Bryant, A., Bogie, R., Cross, N., Edouard, P. & Rambaud, A.Phys. Ther. Sport 67, 19–24 (2024). 

To determine return to running criteria currently used by physiotherapists following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury.

Self-reported online international survey.

An online survey of physiotherapists across Australia, the Netherlands, and France.

A total of 476 respondents participated in the survey across Australia (n = 153), the Netherlands (n = 162), and France (n = 161). For return to running criteria following a non-operative approach, the majority of respondents chose swelling (40.55%, n = 193/476), pain (38.24%, n = 182/476), knee extensor strength (34.34%, n = 163/476), single leg squat (31.93%, n = 152/476) and knee flexor strength (29.83%, n = 142/476). After ACL reconstruction, the highest responses were also swelling (41.18%, n = 196/476), pain (37.18%, n = 177/476), knee extensor strength (37.18%, n = 177/476) and single leg squat (33.19%, n = 158/476). From the identified themes the most common cutoff variables were pain between 0 and 3/10, swelling < grade 1+ and limb symmetry on strength and hop tests >70 %.

Physiotherapists in Australia, France, and the Netherlands use many different return to running criteria and most of them use more than one criterion. Despite this, there was little consensus on the cut-off physiotherapists use to apply these criteria.