How to Cope with Knee Injuries

Without proper support, most exercises will be removed from your repertoire if you are unable to support your body weight. Knee impairment (arthritis for example) does not only effect your quadriceps, hamstrings and gastrocnemius (calf) strength, but cuts out essential exercises for a strong core, bicep, latissimus dorsi, trapezius and pectorals to name a few.

The clean and jerk, dead-lift, standing barbell curls, cable cross-overs, lunges, squats, are all untouchable while in recovery. This however does not mean that you stop working out and you’re doomed to the iso-kinetic machines for the rest of your athletic career. In the recovery phase, strengthening your legs is vital, however you must also avoid re-injuring yourself.

The benefits of strengthening your legs following a knee injury are:

  • Reduction of pain and inflammation from over use on a daily basis
  • Prevention of second injury
  • Faster recovery for those awaiting knee surgery
  • Freedom to exercise the rest of your body with stable joints

Here are three basic exercises adapted for those who are unable to perform standard leg workouts. Before you begin these exercises, you should consult your physician.

Swiss ball leg curl: Hamstrings

Position your feet about 1’ apart on a medicine ball while lying on your back on the ground, knees bent, feet planted on the ball. Using your core raise your back up off the ground, balancing on your arms, hands pronated (palms down). Slowly extend your legs, allowing the ball to roll away from your body. Do not lock your legs, just before your legs are completely straight, begin to roll the ball back towards your gluteus maximus (rear end) to the starting position. Inhale while extending your legs, exhale while flexing.

Repeat this 8-10 times, 3 sets Do not continue if too painful

Raised lunges: Quadriceps



Place one of your feet planted squarely on the platform in front of you. Shifting your weight forward, slowly bend your front knee until it is above your ankle. Your rear leg will bend towards the floor, with the respective foot rolling onto your toes. Be sure to maintain square posture, shoulder retracted and torso perpendicular to the floor at all times. Inhale on the way down, exhale on the way up.

Once at 90 degrees, push back on your front foot back to the starting


Repeat 10-12 times. Do not continue if too painful

Heel Raises: Gastrocnemius

A                  B

Feet square beneath your hips, slowly raise your heels off the ground until you are on the balls of your feet. Then control you descent back down onto your heels. Your body should be straight and level, completely perpendicular to the floor. Exhale on the way up, inhale on the way down. Using a wall for balance may be helpful. A way to regress the intensity is to be seated, feet planted on the ground in front of you, and raising your heels.

Repeat 10-12 times. Do not continue if too painful


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