Exercises for a Loose Kneecap

Leg raises are a great exercise for loose knee caps.
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Several conditions can cause a loose kneecap, including patellar dislocation or instability and knee dislocation. Some cases will require surgical treatment, while others can be treated with braces and exercises. Working with a physical therapist is the best way to learn loose kneecap exercises.

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Treating a Loose Kneecap

Whether this is a chronic condition or the result of acute injury, you should always consult your doctor or a physical therapist to determine the right course of treatment. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), knee dislocation often damages the underside of the kneecap, which can lead to lasting pain and the development of arthritis.

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The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that repeated and untreated kneecap subluxations can cause increased damage to the knee each time they happen. It's important to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan that may include working with a physical therapist or doing exercises on your own.

You shouldn't perform any exercises until you get the go-ahead from your treatment provider. Your knee may need to be in a brace or cast for several weeks, and you may have to avoid putting weight on the affected leg. Strengthening and conditioning will begin once the splint or brace has been removed.

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Read more: The Best Hip-Strengthening Exercises to Improve Mobility and Ease Pain

Loose Kneecap Exercises

The AAOS explains that loose patella exercises will primarily be aimed at strengthening the quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh, which provide support and stabilization for the knee. The quads are the muscles at the top of your upper leg when you're sitting down on a chair. In the case of patellar tracking disorder, Michigan Medicine explains that strengthening the hip muscles can also help.

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The right exercises depend on your specific condition, but the following are examples of some your physical therapist may as you to do.

Move 1: Quad Sets

  1. Sit on the floor or on a firm bed with your legs extended.
  2. Tighten the quadriceps muscle of your affected leg and press your knee flat to the floor.
  3. Hold for 6 seconds, then rest for up to 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat for a total of 8 to 12 repetitions.
  5. Perform the exercise several times each day.

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If your knee feels uncomfortable, Michigan Medicine suggests placing a rolled towel under your knee for support.

Move 2: Straight Leg Raise

  1. Lie on the floor or on a firm bed. Bend the knee of your unaffected leg, and place your foot flat on the floor.
  2. Extended your other leg. Maintain a natural curve in your spine.
  3. Contract your quadriceps muscles on the extended leg and hold your leg straight.
  4. Lift your leg 12 to 18 inches off the floor and hold it there for 6 seconds.
  5. Slowly lower your leg and rest for a few seconds.
  6. Repeat for a total of 8 to 12 repetitions.
  7. Perform the exercise three times a day.

Move 3: Side-lying Leg Raise

  1. Lie on your side with your injured leg on top. Bend your bottom leg and extend your top leg.
  2. Slowly lift your top leg to 45 degrees. Keep your knee straight but not locked.
  3. Hold for 5 seconds, then slowly release.
  4. Relax for 2 seconds, then repeat.
  5. Perform a total of three sets of 20 repetitions four to five times a week.

As the exercise becomes easier, the AAOS says you can wear ankle weights to increase the challenge. Start with 5 pounds and work your way up to 10 pounds.

Move 4: Hip Adduction

  1. Lie down on your side with the affected knee on the bottom. Extend both legs.
  2. Bend your top knee and cross your leg in front of your bottom leg with your foot on the floor for support.
  3. Raise your bottom leg off the floor 6 to 8 inches and hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Lower your leg and rest for 2 seconds.
  5. Repeat for a total of three sets of 20 repetitions four to five times a week.

Increase the challenge by placing a 5- to 10-pound ankle weight on your bottom leg.

Read more: Bad Knees? Try These 14 Knee-Strengthening Exercises

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