Meniscus Tear: Exercises

Skip to the navigation

Your Care Instructions

Here are some examples of typical rehabilitation exercises for your condition. 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

Calf wall stretch

Picture of calf wall stretch
slide 1 of 10
slide 1 of 10, Calf wall stretch,
  1. Stand facing a wall with your hands on the wall at about eye level. Put your affected leg about a step behind your other leg.
  2. Keeping your back leg straight and your back heel on the floor, bend your front knee and gently bring your hip and chest toward the wall until you feel a stretch in the calf of your back leg.
  3. Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds.
  4. Repeat 2 to 4 times.
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 4, but this time keep your back knee bent.

Hamstring wall stretch

Picture of hamstring wall stretch
slide 2 of 10
slide 2 of 10, Hamstring wall stretch,
  1. Lie on your back in a doorway, with your good leg through the open door.
  2. Slide your affected leg up the wall to straighten your knee. You should feel a gentle stretch down the back of your leg.
    • Do not arch your back.
    • Do not bend either knee.
    • Keep one heel touching the floor and the other heel touching the wall. Do not point your toes.
  3. Hold the stretch for at least 1 minute. Then over time, try to lengthen the time you hold the stretch to as long as 6 minutes.
  4. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

If you do not have a place to do this exercise in a doorway, there is another way to do it:

  1. Lie on your back, and bend your affected leg.
  2. Loop a towel under the ball and toes of that foot, and hold the ends of the towel in your hands.
  3. Straighten your knee, and slowly pull back on the towel. You should feel a gentle stretch down the back of your leg.
  4. Hold the stretch for at least 15 to 30 seconds. Or even better, hold the stretch for 1 minute if you can.
  5. Repeat 2 to 4 times.

Quad sets

Picture showing the quad set exercise
slide 3 of 10
slide 3 of 10, 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 up to 10 seconds.
  4. Do 8 to 12 repetitions several times a day.

Straight-leg raises to the front

Picture of straight-leg raises to the front
slide 4 of 10
slide 4 of 10, 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 5 seconds and then lower slowly.
  4. Do 8 to 12 repetitions.

Straight-leg raises to the back

Picture of straight-leg raises to the back
slide 5 of 10
slide 5 of 10, 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.

Hamstring curls

Picture of hamstring curls
slide 6 of 10
slide 6 of 10, 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 kilograms). With weight, you do not have to lift your leg more than 30 centimetres to get a hamstring workout.

Wall slide with ball squeeze

Picture of wall slide with ball between legs
slide 7 of 10
slide 7 of 10, Wall slide with ball squeeze,
  1. Stand with your back against a wall and with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Your feet should be about 30 centimetres away from the wall.
  2. Put a ball about the size of a soccer ball between your knees. Then slowly slide down the wall until your knees are bent about 20 to 30 degrees.
  3. Tighten your thigh muscles by squeezing the ball between your knees. Hold that position for about 10 seconds, then stop squeezing. Rest for up to 10 seconds between repetitions.
  4. Repeat 8 to 12 times.

Heel raises

Picture of heel raises
slide 8 of 10
slide 8 of 10, 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.

Heel dig bridging

Picture of heel dig bridging exercise
slide 9 of 10
slide 9 of 10, Heel dig bridging,

Note: Stop doing this exercise if it causes pain.

  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.

Shallow standing knee bends

Picture of shallow standing knee bends
slide 10 of 10
slide 10 of 10, Shallow standing knee bends,

Note: Do this exercise only if you have very little pain; if you have no clicking, locking, or giving way in the 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.

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 https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter C183 in the search box to learn more about "Meniscus Tear: Exercises".

Current as of: March 21, 2017