Compared to the shoulder the knee is a seemingly simpler hinge joint that permits articulation between the femur (thigh bone) and tibia (shin bone) and between the femur and the patella (kneecap). That however doesn’t mean there is anything simple about it. The fact that it is one of the most frequently injured joints speaks volumes of the loads it takes and the complexity of the work required to rehabilitate it when injury occurs.
Like most joints the knee will suffer either from sprains or from wear and tear. Sprains usually affect the ligaments and wear and tear affects the cartilage that cushions the points of contact between the bones in the joint. There is one other type of knee injury that can occur which is serious and usually requires medical intervention so we will get to it last.
If a sprain happens you will be able to identify it because the knee will hurt during specific exercises. The usual treatment is to apply ice on the injured part the moment the pain is experienced and then, after the knee has been rested, to begin local manipulation by massaging the tendons affected, gently. At that stage it also helps to keep the knee joint warm by bandaging it loosely. A raised temperature helps improve the blood flow and speed up the healing process.
Knee rehabilitation after that requires gentle extensions and retractions of the knee while lying on your back to take the pressure off it and help increase flexibility and then knee strengthening exercises. Strong knees require strong muscles. There are four specific muscle groups that help stabilize the knee joint.
- Hip Stabilizers (pelvic muscles)
Knee Joint Strengthening Exercises
If the muscles that support the knee joint are naturally strong then there is a lot less pressure being applied on it by dynamic movements and even wear and tear is reduced. The exercises below help strengthen the relative muscle groups and, in addition, also work the tendons and ligaments of the knee helping to keep them supple. This maintains the knee’s range of motion.
Rehabilitating the knee requires constant work on all these muscle groups on an ever-increasing rep count. It may be necessary to also increase the frequency of the workout.
Workouts for the Knees
ACL or PCL injury
Within the knee joint itself there are two sets of ligaments called the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and the Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) which can rupture. The injury is a relatively common one, especially in contact sports like soccer, ice-hockey and football. These ligaments require knee surgery to repair so there is no exercise you can do to help them heal. Studies have shown however that strong muscles around the knee joint help with the post-surgery recovery process and then protect the knee joint from being injured again.