At-Home Knee Rehabilitation: Strengthening Without Special Equipment
Kris Jensen, MS, PT, SCS
THE PHYSICIAN AND SPORTSMEDICINE - VOL 24 - NO. 5 - MAY 96
Following a knee injury or surgery, leg strength must be fully regained to ensure a safe return to sports and other activities. Starting a strength program is relatively easy if you belong to a fitness center or have exercise equipment at home. But what if you don't have access to equipment? Do you need to join a fitness center or buy weights for home use?
Not necessarily. With a little creativity, you can do very well at home without exercise equipment (figures 1 through 8). But before you try these or any other knee exercises, review the following important points:
- The goals of a complete knee rehabilitation program are to regain normal strength, power, endurance, flexibility, balance, agility, and heart and lung fitness. The exercises presented here focus primarily on strength training and therefore must be supplemented to create a comprehensive program.
- Not all exercises are appropriate for every injury. Follow your doctor's recommendations as to what activities or knee positions you should avoid. Have your doctor circle which of these exercises would work best for your condition. Discontinue any exercise that causes significant pain during or after the exercise session.
- In general, exercise every other day. This allows adequate time for your leg muscles to recover and be ready for the next session.
- How many repetitions you perform of a particular exercise will depend on how strong you are, how many different exercises you are performing, and what your goals are for the exercise session. But start your exercise program conservatively. One set of 6 to 12 repetitions for each exercise is usually adequate. As you become stronger, gradually increase to four sets of 6 to 12 repetitions with 1- to 2-minute rests between sets. You can increase the difficulty of the exercises by increasing the number of repetitions or by shortening the rest period. To avoid injury, always progress slowly and listen to your body. Stop exercising if you have pain, or if you are unable to perform the exercise correctly.
- Keep a log of your exercise sessions. This will make it easier to monitor your progress and will help you stay diligent with your program.
Remember: This information is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. Before starting a rehabilitation program, consult a physician.
Ms Jensen is the manager of sports medicine physical therapy in the Sports Medicine Center at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison. She is a member of the sports medicine section of the American Physical Therapy Association.
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