Isokinetic muscle strength and readiness to return to sport following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: is there an association? A systematic review and a protocol recommendation

Br J Sports Med. 2015 Oct;49(20):1305-10. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2014-093962. Epub 2015 Jun 23.


Introduction: Following anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR), strength is a key variable in regaining full function of the knee. Isokinetic strength is commonly used as part of the return to sport (RTS) criteria.

Aim: We systematically reviewed the isokinetic strength evaluation protocols that are currently being used following ACLR. A secondary aim was to suggest an isokinetic protocol that could meet RTS criteria.

Method: Articles were searched using ScienceDirect, PubMed and Sage Journals Online, combined with cross-checked reference lists of the publications. Protocol data and outcome measurements and RTS criteria were extracted from each article included in the review.

Results: 39 studies met the inclusion criteria and reported their isokinetic strength evaluation protocol following ACLR. The variables that were most commonly used were concentric/concentric mode of contraction (31 studies), angular velocity of 60°/s (29 studies), 3-5 repetitions (24 studies), range of motion of 0-90° (6 studies), and using gravity correction (9 studies). 8 studies reported strength limb symmetry index scores as part of their RTS criteria.

Conclusions: There was no standardised isokinetic protocol following ACLR; isokinetic strength measures have not been validated as useful predictors of successful RTS. We propose a standard protocol to allow consistency of testing and accurate comparison of future research.

Keywords: ACL; Isokinetics; Strength isometric isokinetic.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries*
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction / rehabilitation*
  • Athletic Injuries / physiopathology
  • Athletic Injuries / rehabilitation*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / physiopathology
  • Knee Injuries / surgery
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Quadriceps Muscle / physiology
  • Return to Sport / physiology*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome