Knee: Exercises

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Your Care Instructions

Here are some examples of exercises for your knee. Start each exercise slowly. Ease off the exercise if you start to have pain.

Your doctor or physiotherapist will tell you when you can start these exercises and which ones will work best for you.

How to do the exercises

Quad sets

Picture showing the quad set exercise
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slide 1 of 9, Quad sets,
  1. Sit with your leg straight and supported on the floor or a firm bed. (If you feel discomfort in the front or back of your knee, place a small towel roll under your knee.)
  2. Tighten the muscles on top of your thigh by pressing the back of your knee flat down to the floor. (If you feel discomfort under your kneecap, place a small towel roll under your knee.)
  3. Hold for about 6 seconds, then rest for up to 10 seconds.
  4. Do 8 to 12 repetitions several times a day.

Straight-leg raises to the front

Picture showing straight-leg raises to the front
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slide 2 of 9, Straight-leg raises to the front,
  1. Lie on your back with your good knee bent so that your foot rests flat on the floor. Your injured leg should be straight. Make sure that your low back has a normal curve. You should be able to slip your flat hand in between the floor and the small of your back, with your palm touching the floor and your back touching the back of your hand.
  2. Tighten the thigh muscles in the injured leg by pressing the back of your knee flat down to the floor. Hold your knee straight.
  3. Keeping the thigh muscles tight, lift your injured leg up so that your heel is about 30 centimetres off the floor. Hold for about 6 seconds and then lower slowly.
  4. Do 8 to 12 repetitions, 3 times a day.

Straight-leg raises to the outside

Picture of straight-leg raises to the outside
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slide 3 of 9, Straight-leg raises to the outside,
  1. Lie on your side, with your injured leg on top.
  2. Tighten the front thigh muscles of your injured leg to keep your knee straight.
  3. Keep your hip and your leg straight in line with the rest of your body, and keep your knee pointing forward. Do not drop your hip back.
  4. Lift your injured leg straight up toward the ceiling, about 30 centimetres off the floor. Hold for about 6 seconds, then slowly lower your leg.
  5. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.

Straight-leg raises to the back

Photo of Straight leg raise exercise 3
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slide 4 of 9, Straight-leg raises to the back,
  1. Lie on your stomach, and lift your leg straight up behind you (toward the ceiling).
  2. Lift your toes about 15 centimetres off the floor, hold for about 6 seconds, then lower slowly.
  3. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.

Straight-leg raises to the inside

Picture of straight-leg raises to the inside
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slide 5 of 9, Straight-leg raises to the inside,
  1. Lie on the side of your body with the injured leg.
  2. You can either prop your other (good) leg up on a chair, or you can bend your good knee and put that foot in front of your injured knee. Do not drop your hip back.
  3. Tighten the muscles on the front of your thigh to straighten your injured knee.
  4. Keep your kneecap pointing forward, and lift your whole leg up toward the ceiling about 15 centimetres. Hold for about 6 seconds, then lower slowly.
  5. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.

Heel dig bridging

Picture of heel dig bridging exercise
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slide 6 of 9, Heel dig bridging,
  1. Lie on your back with both knees bent and your ankles bent so that only your heels are digging into the floor. Your knees should be bent about 90 degrees.
  2. Then push your heels into the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and lift your hips off the floor until your shoulders, hips, and knees are all in a straight line.
  3. Hold for about 6 seconds as you continue to breathe normally, and then slowly lower your hips back down to the floor and rest for up to 10 seconds.
  4. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.

Hamstring curls

Picture of hamstring curls
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slide 7 of 9, Hamstring curls,
  1. Lie on your stomach with your knees straight. If your kneecap is uncomfortable, roll up a face cloth and put it under your leg just above your kneecap.
  2. Lift the foot of your injured leg by bending the knee so that you bring the foot up toward your buttock. If this motion hurts, try it without bending your knee quite as far. This may help you avoid any painful motion.
  3. Slowly lower your leg back to the floor.
  4. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.
  5. With permission from your doctor or physiotherapist, you may also want to add a cuff weight to your ankle (not more than 2.3 kilograms). With weight, you do not have to lift your leg more than 30 centimetres to get a hamstring workout.

Shallow standing knee bends

Picture showing shallow standing knee bends
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slide 8 of 9, Shallow standing knee bends,

Note: Do this exercise only if you have very little pain; if you have no clicking, locking, or giving way if you have an injured knee; and if it does not hurt while you are doing 8 to 12 repetitions.

  1. Stand with your hands lightly resting on a counter or chair in front of you. Put your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slowly bend your knees so that you squat down like you are going to sit in a chair. Make sure your knees do not go in front of your toes.
  3. Lower yourself about 15 centimetres. Your heels should remain on the floor at all times.
  4. Rise slowly to a standing position.

Heel raises

Picture showing heel raises
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slide 9 of 9, Heel raises,
  1. Stand with your feet 8 to 10 centimetres apart, with your hands lightly resting on a counter or chair in front of you.
  2. Slowly raise your heels off the floor while keeping your knees straight.
  3. Hold for about 6 seconds, then slowly lower your heels to the floor.
  4. Do 8 to 12 repetitions several times during the day.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 23, 2016