Physical Therapy for ACL Injuries in Washington, D.C.

At Release Physical Therapy, our experienced therapists perform comprehensive assessments to accurately diagnose your ACL injury symptoms. From there, we design individualized treatment plans focused on facilitating healing and targeting your specific needs.

Physical Therapy for ACL Injuries in Washington, D.C.

At Release Physical Therapy, our experienced therapists perform comprehensive assessments to accurately diagnose your ACL injury symptoms. From there, we design individualized treatment plans focused on facilitating healing and targeting your specific needs.

We'll help you get back to work, back in the game, and back to doing the activities you love.

Non-Surgical ACL Treatment in Washington, D.C.

Physical therapy is fundamental in both non-surgical and post-surgical treatment of a torn ACL, focusing on reducing initial swelling, enhancing knee mobility, and strengthening surrounding muscles for knee stability. Initiating therapy shortly after surgery helps to mitigate swelling, maintain joint motion, and begin muscle strengthening. Following a structured rehab plan is crucial for a successful recovery. Therapeutic massage aids this process by alleviating pain and promoting muscle flexibility. A committed approach to physical therapy, combined with lifestyle modifications and bracing, can achieve substantial improvements, enabling an active lifestyle while managing high-impact activities.

Will physical therapy help a torn ACL?

Physical therapy for an ACL tear can be highly beneficial. Before surgery, physical therapy improves knee strength and flexibility, laying a strong foundation for a smoother post-surgery recovery. Prehab ensures a quicker return to normal activities post-operation After surgery, ACL physical therapy is crucial for recovery because it helps regain full joint motion, and strengthens muscles around the knee.

A comprehensive rehab program from Release PT includes specific exercises to improve balance, proprioception (the sense of joint position), and agility. The goal of physical therapy is to restore the knee’s function to as close to pre-injury levels as possible, minimize the risk of future injuries, and ensure a safe return to desired activities.


When to start physical therapy after ACL surgery?

ACL physical therapy after surgery begins soon after the operation, often within the first week. The exact timing will change from one patient to another, though and your Release PT therapist will help you determine the right timing for you. We believe that early intervention with physical therapy is crucial for several reasons:

  • Reduce Swelling and Improve Circulation: Initiating exercises and movements helps reduce swelling and promotes blood flow, aiding the healing process.
  • Prevent Stiffness: Early mobilization helps maintain the range of motion in the knee joint, preventing stiffness.
  • Strengthen Muscles: Starting muscle-strengthening exercises early prevents the loss of muscle mass and strength, a common issue after surgery due to inactivity.
  • Promote Healing: Controlled, guided physical activity can stimulate the healing process and prepare the knee for more rigorous rehabilitation exercises later.
  • Lay the Foundation for Rehabilitation: Early stages of physical therapy set the groundwork for more advanced phases of recovery, focusing on regaining full function and returning to normal activities.


What are the 6 stages of ACL rehab?

While all of our patients’ timelines may differ, this is the general physical therapy protocol process for ACL rehab, and it’s structured into stages for optimal recovery:

  • Pre-operative Rehabilitation: Reduce swelling, maintain knee motion, and strengthen muscles.
  • Initial Post-operative (0-2 Weeks): Decrease swelling, protect surgical site, start gentle motion exercises, and gradually increase weight-bearing.
  • Early Recovery (2-4 Weeks): Further reduce swelling, improve knee motion, and begin light strengthening.
  • Quadriceps Strengthening and Gait Training (4-6 Weeks): Strengthen quadriceps, improve walking patterns, and enhance knee mobility.
  • Intermediate Phase (6-12 Weeks): Intensify leg muscle strengthening, introduce balance exercises, and refine gait.
  • Advanced Strengthening (12-16 Weeks): Focus on comprehensive lower body strengthening.

Our physical therapists will conduct regular evaluations and make adjustments to the rehab plan as needed, ensuring a safe and effective return to activities.


How long do you do PT after ACL?

The duration of physical therapy after ACL surgery depends on our patients’ specific surgery details, rehabilitation goals, progress, and adherence to your personalized PT regimen. Typically, PT continues for about 6 to 9 months post-surgery. 

The initial phases at Release PT focus on reducing swelling, restoring range of motion, and strengthening the muscles around the knee. As rehabilitation progresses, the exercises become more advanced, focusing on strengthening and balance.

Our goal is to ensure your knee is strong, stable, and flexible enough to safely return to daily activities, work, or sports. Some people may need PT for a longer period based on their recovery or if they are returning to a high level of activity. Regular follow-ups with your Release PT therapist are crucial to assess progress.

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What does ACL physical therapy look like?

ACL physical therapy progresses through key stages, each tailored to different recovery milestones:

Early Post-Surgery Phase:

  • Goals: Reduce swelling, manage pain, and protect the repair.
  • Activities: Gentle motion exercises, isometric strengthening, and ICE therapy.

Range of Motion and Strengthening Phase:

  • Goals: Achieve full extension, improve flexion, and begin muscle building.
  • Activities:  Range of motion exercises, leg presses, calf raises, basic balance work.

Strengthening and Neuromuscular Control:

  • Goals: Increase muscle strength, and enhance balance/proprioception.
  • Activities:  Squats, lunges, advanced balance, and proprioceptive exercises.

Functional and Sports-Specific Training:

  • Goals: Ready for daily work or sports activities.
  • Activities: Plyometrics, agility drills, and tailored sports-specific drills.

Our program includes improving walking patterns, injury prevention techniques, and regular assessments to customize the therapy. Effective recovery hinges on the collaboration between you and your physical therapist.


What should I avoid with a torn ACL?

When dealing with a torn ACL, we recommend that you avoid actions that risk further damage or hinder recovery. High-impact sports, heavy lifting, and activities requiring sudden changes in direction should be avoided to prevent additional strain on the knee.

Similarly, running, deep knee bending, or any movement causing pain should be avoided. Our physical therapists can put together a structured rehabilitation program for you. These are crucial for healing; skipping prescribed physical therapy can significantly set back progress.

Lastly, you should avoid wearing unsupportive shoes. Proper, supportive footwear can help minimize stress on the knee and make walking comfortable.


Does massaging a torn ACL help?

Release PT offers therapeutic massage, which can complement the rehabilitation process for a torn ACL by aiding in pain relief, reducing swelling, increasing muscle flexibility, and alleviating muscle tension around the knee. Therapeutic massage promotes better circulation, facilitating the healing process, and offering stress. This holistic approach supports the knee’s recovery by addressing both physical and mental aspects of healing.


How can I make my ACL heal faster?

To foster faster ACL healing, consider these strategies:

  • Adhere to Physical Therapy: Participate in customized exercises to strengthen and stabilize the knee.
  • Rest and Protect: Use crutches or a brace as needed to minimize stress on the ACL.
  • Ice and Compression: Apply ice and compression to reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Nutritious Diet: Focus on foods rich in proteins, vitamins, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Stay Hydrated: Ensure adequate fluid intake for tissue repair.
  • Increase Activity Slowly: Gradually reintroduce activities, avoiding sudden stress on the knee.
  • Avoid High-Impact Activities: Steer clear of actions that could strain the healing ligament.
  • Listen to Your Body: Heed pain signals and adjust activities accordingly.
  • Regular Check-ups: Keep up with follow-up appointments to adjust rehab plans as needed.

Emphasizing careful management and rehabilitation is the key to a quicker and more effective ACL recovery.


Can you rehab a torn ACL without surgery?

Rehabilitating a torn ACL without surgery is feasible, particularly for those with partial tears. Our non-surgical approach centers on strengthening supporting muscles through physical therapy, using knee braces for added stability, and modifying activities to avoid actions that stress the knee. It also includes proprioception and balance exercises to improve joint awareness and prevent further injury.

While this method may limit the return to high-impact sports, it can allow our patients to perform daily activities with minimal discomfort. Success depends on a dedicated commitment to rehabilitation under our professional guidance, assessing the best treatment route for each patient’s needs and goals.

There are many different factors that go into healing and rehabilitating an ACL injury. The skilled team at Release PT is ready to help you recover and get back to your normal, active lifestyle. For more information or to book an appointment, feel free to use our online form or give us a call at 202-974-6621.

We'll help you get back to work, back in the game, and back to doing the activities you love.

Release Physical Therapy


At Release Physical Therapy Washington, D.C. we offer a full range of manual therapies, as well as both traditional and non-traditional treatment techniques. We work one-on-one with our patients to develop an individualized treatment plan that meets their unique needs, conditions, wellness goals and fitness levels.

Active Release Technique ® (ART)

Massage and movement-based technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves.

K-Laser ® Therapy

The use of specific wavelengths of light to improve healing time, pain reduction, increase circulation and decrease swelling.

Trigger Point Dry Needling

Needle treatment that decreases pain, increases range of motion and improves strength by inactivating myofascial trigger points.

ASTYM ® Therapy

Regenerates healthy soft tissues (muscles, tendons, etc.), and eliminates or reduces unwanted scar tissue that may be causing pain or movement restrictions.

Kineseo ® Taping Method

Taping technique that reduces muscular pain and inflammation, relaxes overused muscles, improves posture and movement awareness and enhances performance.

Running Assessment

Individualized biomechanical analysis designed to identify strength, gait, and alignment imbalances to decrease risk of injury and improve your current training program.

Functional Training

Exercise regimens that integrate multiple muscle groups, joints and the brain to prepare the body for everyday movement, athletics and other specialized physical activities.

Graston Technique ®

Instrument-assisted soft tissue mobilization used to address soft tissue lesions and fascial restrictions resulting in improved patient outcomes.

Blood Flow Restriction (BFR)

Rehabilitation therapy and performance training technique using a Personalized Tourniquet System® designed for BFR, to reduce atrophy and increase strength.

Shockwave Therapy

A non-invasive, office based treatment that utilizes acoustic waves to alleviate pain, promote tissue regeneration, and accelerate the healing process.

Massage Therapy

Manual manipulation of the soft tissues including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints to relieve pain, improve circulation, and address specific musculoskeletal conditions.

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Physical Therapists

Our experienced and highly trained physical therapists specialize in treating the outpatient orthopedic population, including sports therapy, orthopedic/spinal therapy, chronic pain management, pre/post-surgical therapy, as well as wellness and prevention. All of our physical therapist are accepting new patients.

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6:00 am - 8:00 pm

Mon - Thur

6:00 am - 8:00 pm


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What Patients Are Saying

What Patients Say

"Dr. Simon's knowledge, expertise and patience have given me my life back. She spent more time discussing my injuries and recovery than both my doctor and an orthopedist." - L.J.

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Health & Safety


At Release Physical Therapy, there is nothing more important to us than the health and safety of our patients and staff during this unprecedented time. The Department of Homeland Security and state governments have deemed physical therapy an essential component of healthcare during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic; therefore, our office will remain open to serve those in need. We are taking extensive preventative measures to protect our patients and employees who enter our clinic. Learn more

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Location & Hours

Hours of Operation

Monday-Thursday: 6am - 8pm
Friday: 6am - 5pm
Saturday: By appointment
Sunday: Office closed

Office Address

Release Physical Therapy
2134 L St NW, Washington, DC 20037

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Our Physical Therapists

Our experienced and highly trained physical therapists specialize in treating the outpatient orthopedic population, including sports therapy, orthopedic/spinal therapy, chronic pain management, pre/post-surgical therapy, as well as wellness and prevention. All of our physical therapists are accepting new patients.