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Knee Rehabilitation Exercises

Hi, this is Shane Doll. Thanks for coming to check out my page on knee rehabilitation exercises. If you’re going through knee rehab right now with a physical therapist, just finishing up rehab, or getting ready to schedule corrective surgery, I think you’ll find this page to be very helpful and informative.

As you read down through the list and watch the videos, some exercises you may know, others you’ve probably never seen. That’s the result of putting a lot of heads together and sharing information.

If you live in the Lowcountry area and would benefit from a Charleston personal fitness program for knee rehab, we’re here to help. You can come in for a totally FREE consultation and assessment. If we can help you with coaching, great, if not we’re happy to help provide you with recommendations..



Knee Rehabilitation Exercises: Level 1 -Beginning Exercises

Heel Slides
While sitting with legs straight pull heel of injured leg towards your body, flexing the knee as much as tolerable. Hold and straighten leg by sliding heel downward. Use hands to put pressure on leg above kneecap trying to make the knee as straight as possible.

Passive Knee Flexion
While seated in a chair gently push injured leg back (at the foot) as far as tolerable with your other foot. Hold for 5 seconds and slowly relax.

Supine (Seated) Straight Leg Raises
While sitting with legs straight flex the injured leg at the foot to 90 degrees. Tighten thigh muscles and raise leg upward keeping the knee straight. Lift the leg 12-18” off the floor and hold at top for 2-3 second count. Slowly lower leg to floor and repeat.

Watch Video of Seated Straight Leg Raises

Side Straight Leg Raises (Abduction)
While lying on your side with injured leg on top raise your leg upwards keeping your knee straight. Hold at top for 2-3 second count then slowly lower leg to floor and repeat.

Side Straight Leg Raises (Adduction)
While lying on your side with the injured leg on the bottom raise your leg upwards keeping your knee straight. You won’t be able to go very high, approximately 6-12”. Hold at top for 2-3 second count then slowly lower leg to floor and repeat.

Seated Ball Squeeze
While sitting on the edge of a chair place a 8-10” rubber ball between the knees. Slowly contract the inner thigh muscles squeezing the ball as tightly as possible. Hold for 2-3 second count the repeat.

Knee Rehabilitation Exercises: Level 2 – Intermediate Exercises

Straight Leg Raises w/ Band Resistance
Complete the leg raises listed above with added resistance from a rubber band or tubing.

Watch Video of Straight Leg Raises with Band Resistance

Partial Squats
While standing with feet shoulder width apart place back on a stability ball against the wall. Slowly squat down with upright posture leaning back onto ball. Do not allow the thighs to go below parallel to the floor.

Wall Chairs
While standing with feet shoulder width apart, place back flat against the wall or a stability ball. Slowly squat down to a position where the thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold at the bottom position for as long as tolerable. Look to increase your time at each session until you can hold for 60 seconds.

Side Step-Up’s (Heel Taps)
Stand sideways with injured leg next to a 6” step. Place foot on step and slowly lift your body weight straight up. Slowly lower the leg back to the floor while keeping your toes pointed towards the ceiling. Gently tap heel against the floor and then raise back up.

Seated Chair Walks
While seated on a rolling chair or stool reach out in front of your body as far as possible leading with the heel of your foot. Pull back towards the body as your roll the chair forward. Repeat with other leg and alternate as you slide across the floor.

Watch Video of Seated Chair Walks

Treadmill Foot Drags
Stand facing a treadmill that is off and place one foot flat on the belt. Pull your leg back towards your body as you drag the belt in reverse. Repeat for several repetitions then switch legs. Next, stand sideways from the treadmill and place your foot on the belt with your foot straight ahead. Drag your foot back towards your body using your inner thighs. Repeat for several repetitions then switch legs.

Watch Video of Treadmill Foot Drags

Standing Leg Abduction w/ Resistance Band
Place a rubber band or tubing around the ankles and raise your leg outward attempting to keep it as straight as possible. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions then switch legs.

Standing Leg Adduction w/ Resistance Band
Place a rubber band or tubing around the ankles and draw your leg inward crossing in front of the stabilizing leg. Attempt to keep the leg as straight as possible. Repeat for 10-15 repetitions then switch legs.

Watch Video of Standing Leg Adduction with Band Resistance

Knee Rehabilitation Exercises: Level Three

1 Leg Balance w/ Sagittal Reach
Stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent and hands on hips. Reach the opposite leg out to the front attempting to keep the knee as straight as possible. Do not allow the stabilizing leg to flex too far forward. The knee should not go past the toes while reaching forward with the opposite leg. Hold reach for 2-3 second count then repeat.

1 Leg Reach
Stand on one leg with the knee slightly bent and opposite hand above the head. Slowly reach down towards the floor allowing the unsupported leg to shift backwards. Reach down as far as possible and repeat.

Watch Video of 1 Leg Reach

Hindu Squats
Stand with feet shoulder width apart and arms raised to shoulder height with palms facing the floor. Pull your arms straight back making a fist with your hands then taking them behind your back. While keeping an upright position slowly lower yourself down into a squat swinging your arms forward as you return to the starting position. Repeat the motion for several repetitions.

Watch Video of Hindu Squats

Resistance Band/Tubing Monster Walks
Place a rubber band or tubing around the ankles. Take big steps driving your feet outwards against the resistance. Repeat the walk for several repetitions.

Hamstring Curl w/ Stability Ball
Lie on your back with your feet on a stability ball and legs straight. Raise your hips off the floor and pull your heels toward your body. Do not allow your hips to drop or your feet rotate outward. Slowly curl the ball in and out repeating the motion for several repetitions.

Watch Video of Hamstring Curl with Stability Ball

Wall Slides
Stand sideways against a wall with your entire body flat against the surface. Slightly turn the foot on the stabilizing leg outward. While pushing your hips against the wall do a slight knee bend sliding up and down the wall. Repeat the motion for several repetitions.

Progress to the following strengthening exercises:

  • 1 Leg Romanian Dead Lifts
  • 1 Leg Bulgarian Squats
  • Split Squats
  • Lateral Lunges (Frontal Plane)
  • Sagittal Plane Lunges
  • Transverse Plane Reaches
  • BOSU Squats
  • 1 Leg Alternating Lateral Hops
  • Forward Hops (both feet then single leg)
  • 1 Leg Squats
  • Duckwalks
  • DB Deadlifts
  • Straight Leg Lifts

Shane Doll is a certified Charleston personal trainer, fitness expert, speaker, author, and founder of Shaping Concepts Personal Training Studios. Learn more how you can receive a FREE no-obligations trial of his Charleston Personal Training Programs and experience the Shaping Concepts difference for yourself.

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Category: Corrective Exercise.