These 6 simple knee exercises are basic to rehabilitation after an injury or surgery.



Foot pumps

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foot pumps

Foot pumps activate the muscle pump in the calf and improve the circulation of the limb. This helps to reduce swelling and prevent deep vein thrombosis (vein clot) when the limb has been held immobilised because of pain and swelling. The foot needs to move from the ankle, firmly pointing the toes up towards the roof while contracting the calf, and then pointing them down again towards the end of the bed or the floor. It may help to have a soft sheepskin under the heels.


Heel slides

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heel slides

Heel slides are very early exercises that help to trigger the quads & hamstrings muscles to start working again. The exercise also helps regain some range of motion and reduce swelling. The idea is to slowly slide your heel towards your  buttock, hold it there for a few seconds and then slowly slide it down again. You can use your hands to help initiate flexion if the leg is swollen. Socks and an upturned tray allow the heel to slide more easily.


Short arc extensions

short arc extensions

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Short arc extensions begin the process of strengthening the quads muscle even though range of motion may still be limited by pain and swelling. Lying on your back on a surface with a pillow under the head and hands by the sides, a length of PVC piping obtained from a plumber acts to slightly flex the knee. The patient slowly extends one side, holds the knee in full extension and slowly relaxes. The two sides are alternated. Progressive ankle weights may be added if the exercise is too easy.


Assisted flexions

assisted flexion

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Assisted flexions focus on your regaining some range of motion in the joint. The exercise requires you to be seated on a high bed or surface where the legs can hang down. The bad knee is bent slowly as far as it will go, while the good leg helps it both to bend and then helps to straighten the bad leg up up again. 


Full arc extensions

full arc extensions

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Full arc extensions rebuild the quads muscle. You need to sit on a firm chair with the back and hands supported. The leg is slowly straightened and held as close to full extension as possible, and then slowly relaxed back to the floor. Adding ankle weights will increase the exercise if it is too easy.


Mini squats

mini squats

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Mini squats are performed at this early stage of rehabilitation standing and with the body supported. Bend slowly as if you were about to sit on a chair, hold the position mid way and then slowly straighten up again. This exercise with help to strengthen both quads and hamstrings as well as your lower back. If your knees are very weak you may put a chair behind you for security.


This simple suite of six early knee exercises are designed for the beginner to get going with rehabilitation until arrangements are made to visit a professional physiotherapist.



eBook about knee rehabilitation

eBook - Cornerstones of Early Knee Rehabilitation

This ebook takes the reader through a number of knee exercises and stretches that are appropriate during knee rehabilitation.


eBook - Objectives of Knee Rehabilitation

This ebook in easy language explains what one is trying to achieve when knee rehabilitation is undertaken.


SAM - skateboard active motion - Useful early exercise suggested and added courtesy of Professor Behrens