Exercises After Knee Injury

Low section of a man wearing a knee support and holding his injured knee
A man holding his bandaged knee. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Individuals who have suffered knee injuries need to maintain or obtain leg strength in the quadriceps, hamstrings and calf muscles. Simple bodyweight exercises will do the job. In the days following a knee injury, there should be no sprinting or jumping. According the Mayo Clinic, knee injury sufferers may want to consider wearing a neoprene knee brace during exercise, especially when training the legs.

Walk and Bike

Those with knee injuries should avoid running as much as possible because of the impact it creates. Elliptical machines are decent alternatives if used correctly. However, many individuals lock out the knees while using elliptical machines, causing unneeded stress. Walking and biking increase heart strength and help strengthen the leg muscles without excessive impact.

Ball Wall Squats

Ball wall squats demand much work from the quadriceps. To begin, place an exercise ball against a wall. Stand facing away from the wall with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. The ball should be squeezed between the wall and the middle of the spine. Bend your knees until your legs are at a 90-degree angle and then extend the legs without locking your knees. Remember to keep your heels flat on the ground–the more the weight is on the toes, the more stress on the knee.

Band Walk

The band walk strengthens the tendons and ligaments as well as the leg muscles. These stabilizing tissues are important to rehabilitating knee injuries, according to rehabilitation expert Jonathan Cluett, MD. The band walk is completed by placing an exercise band under the feet and holding the handles at your sides. Users should begin with their feet shoulder-width apart. Step to the left with the left foot and then slide the right leg to the left until the feet are shoulder-width again. Perform eight to 15 repetitions to one side, and then the other, for two to four sets.

Box Squat

The box squat simulates standing up from a couch or chair. This exercise strengthens the quadriceps, hamstrings and gluteus muscles without adding the excess stress of external weight. To begin, place a chair, bench or box behind you. Stand in front of it with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Then simply sit down and stand up. Depending on the severity of the injury and leg strength, try to complete five to 15 repetitions for two to four sets.

Supported Squat

The supported squat is a variation of the box squat. It should be performed by those who feel the box squat is too easy. To begin, hold onto a support, whether it is a broomstick or house support pole. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width. Keeping the heels on the ground and with a flat back, squat down as far as possible, and then stand. Perform eight to 15 repetitions for two to four sets.

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