Knee injuries are never fun. We never fully realize how important such a small joint system is to our body until we are forced not to use it. For the avid exercise enthusiast rehabbing a knee can be the most tedious process in the world. Whether the injury is a torn meniscus, torn ligament, or a case of tendinitis around the knee, it is important to strengthen the muscles that surround and support it. Here five of the best exercises that will allow you to rehabilitate an injured knee and make it stronger than before.
1. Straight Leg Raise
For the most serious knee injuries the leg raise is the first exercise to engage in. Laying on your back slowly raise your leg about a foot off of the surface. Hold for up to ten seconds if you can and then slowly lower your leg back down. This exercise your quads and partially your hamstrings. It allows you to slowly get your knee used to being supported by the surrounding muscles.
2. Leg Extensions
The first step to regaining strength in your knee if having it do the most basic function. Sitting on a bench slowly extend your leg straight out. This exercise targets the lower quad muscles surrounding your knee. It is great for rehabbing ligament injuries and for those who want to carefully regain range of motion. After you can do leg extensions with ease it is very common to move to cycling or swimming next.
Joint injuries such as the knee are very fragile when injured. The wrong twist or amount of pressure can make the injury worse or immensely slow down recovery. Swimming is great for these kinds of injuries because it emphasizes range of motion while working the supporting muscles without pressure or impact. Flutter kicks and treading are great for re-training the knee to move in different directions. As with any form of exercise in rehab it is important you do this at a comfortable pace so as not to further aggravate the injury.
4. Stationary Cycling
Like swimming, cycling allows you to get blood pumping to the surrounding muscles of the knee in an exercise that doesn’t put pressure or impact on the knee. Cycling has been found to be one of the best all-around exercises for the knee as it can improve joint mobility, flexibility, strength, and stability. The straight forward and back motion allows your supporting muscles to remember the simplest motions.
5. Body Squats
When you are able to put weight on the knee again don’t be so eager to hit the weights. Start out basic and do a few sets of body squats for a week or two. The ligaments, cartilage and muscles of the knee are now learning to work in unison again. Strengthening the muscles around the knee is good but it is very important to condition the knee to properly function as a supporting joint for your body weight before you do any heavy strength training.
The knee is a synovial joint with little natural blood supply. The knee is one of the few joint systems that gets its majority of nutrients from the water that lubricates the joint. Make sure you stay hydrated throughout the recovery process of the knee to allow it to receive proper nourishment and consequently a better recovery.
About the Author: Jared Pennington is a health and medical equipment specialist who spent the majority of his youth in athletic training rooms weathering every little injury known to man. When he’s not running or rock climbing he writes for Just Home Medical, a supplier of home aides such as grab bars to assist the injured and disabled.