General Knee Rehabilitation Exercises
1. ANKLE PUMPS
With your leg straight, bend your ankle up (toes pointing straight up) and down (toes pointing straight out ahead of you). Do 10 repetitions. Also, spell out the alphabet (A, B, C, D, etc) forward and backward using your big toe as the pen or pencil.
2. QUAD SETS, TOWEL PROPS
With your leg straight out and your foot and ankle resting on a rolled towel, tighten the front of your thigh (quad muscles) and try to push the back of your knee flat down towards the bed. Hold the leg in this position for 10 seconds, then relax.
3. GLUTEAL SQUEEZES
While laying flat on your back, squeeze your butt muscles (gluteals) together and hold together for 10 seconds, then relax.
4. PRONE HANGS
While laying flat on your stomach and your legs hanging off the edge of the bed, position the leg so that the kneecap is comfortably just off the edge of the bed. Simply relax your body and your legs so that your knee straightens out and stretches the back of your knee. Hold in this position for 5 minutes or as long as tolerated if less than 5 minutes.
5. SITTING KNEE FLEXION
While sitting in a chair, use the non-surgical leg to support the surgical leg, and slowly allow the surgical leg to go down to 90 degrees of flexion to the legs of the chair, hold with the knee bent for 5 seconds, then use the non-surgical leg to lift up and straighten the surgical leg all the way back to straight-leg position. Perform 15 repetitions, 3 sets per day.
6. SIDE-LYING HIP ABDUCTION
While laying on your side (both surgical and non-surgical), with the knee brace on, locked straight out in extension, lift the leg up approximately 18 to 24 inches, as shown to the right. Perform 15 repetitions, 3 sets per day.
7. PRONE HIP EXTENSION
While laying flat on your belly with the brace on, locked straight out in extension, lift the leg up approximately 6 to 12 inches, as shown to the right. Perform 15 repetitions, 3 sets per day.
8. PATELLAR MOBILIZATIONS
Do not begin these until your sutures are removed. With your leg straight out, use both hands to move your kneecap in four different directions. First, push the kneecap left and hold it for 10 seconds. Next, push the kneecap right and hold it for 10 seconds. Then, push the kneecap towards your toes and hold it for 10 seconds. Finally, pull the kneecap up towards your hip and hold it for 10 seconds. The total distance moved for each direction should be one inch or less. This is one repetiton. Perform 15 repetitions, 3 times per day.
At a Glance
Dr. Brian Waterman, MD
- Chief & Fellowship Director, Sports Medicine, Wake Forest
- Team Physician, Wake Forest University, Chicago White Sox
- Military affiliation/Decorated military officer and surgeon
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