Best Exercises After A Knee Injury: A Guide (2024)

exercises after knee injury


Recovering from a knee injury can be challenging, especially for those who love to be active, but getting strength and movement back is key to making everyday life easier. With consideration for a few of the best exercises to do after your knee injury, you’ll be back at the gym before you know it. 

When starting your road to recovery, ensure you have a strategic exercise plan that will have the aim of strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee while keeping the movements low impact. Exercises such as swimming are a great way to minimise impact and provide a supportive environment for the knee during the exercise.

While it is tempting to dive into these exercises, It’s important that you consult with a medical professional before exercising to avoid reinjury or further damage. The last thing you want to do is cause more injury to your afflicted knee. If in doubt, always ask your medical professional and always follow their advice.

Leg Exercises After Knee Injury

Movement after a knee injury is important to aid recovery and rehabilitation. Performing leg exercises will help improve overall muscle and ligament strength in and around the knee which will lead to increased joint stability and range of motion. An exercise that can be carried out is:

Straight Leg Raises

  • Lie down with your back supported at a 45-degree angle. Have your legs extended out in front of you.

  • Have one leg bent and with the other leg kept straight, lift your leg up off the floor maintaining this extended position.

  • Hold this leg up for 5 seconds then slowly return it back down to the floor.

Knee Strengthening Exercises After Injury

When recovering from a knee injury, it’s essential to understand the importance of building strength in the surrounding muscles of the knee. This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to neglect a specific muscle or ligament in favor of another as one exercise may be easier than another for you.

Taking a holistic approach will help speed up rehabilitation and reduce reinjury. Some knee-strengthening exercises to consider after injury include:

Bodyweight Squats

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and parallel to each other.

  • While keeping a straight back and your chest up, lower your body by bending your knees.

  • Lower down until your upper legs are parallel to the floor or just below.

  • Raise your body back up to the starting position by strengthening your legs. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.


  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a step forward with one foot and lower your body down by bending your knees until they reach a 90-degree angle.

  • Ensure to keep your back straight and chest up throughout the exercise.

  • Raise your body back up to the starting position.

  • Repeat the exercise, ensuring to switch legs. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.


Knee Mobility Exercises After Injury

Mobility exercises are crucial after injury due to their significant importance in rehabilitation. Elements associated with a knee injury can include stiffness, weakness, and limited range of motion, therefore, it’s key to perform mobility exercises to reduce these factors and stay consistent to aid recovery. Some mobility exercises include: 

Lying Knee Bend

  • Begin by lying on a flat surface with your back supported at a 45-degree angle. 

  • With both legs extended out in front of you, begin by bending your injured knee by slowly sliding your foot towards you along the floor.

  • Slide your foot as far as you comfortably can and hold the position for 2 seconds, then return your leg back to the straight position.

Seated Knee Extension

  • Find two chairs of the same height. Sit on one and put one foot on the chair opposite you with your leg extended out. Have your other foot on the floor in front of you.

  • Carefully push your knee downwards as far as you can comfortably go and straighten it back.

  • Look to hold this position for 10 seconds, then release and repeat the exercise.

man doing knee exercises after acl injury


Knee Exercises After ACL Injury

The ACL is one of the major ligaments in the knee and plays a crucial role in the knee’s stability. Performing knee exercises after an ACL injury is essential for optimal rehabilitation and serious ACL injuries can take months and even years to fully recover from. Some exercises that can be done include:

Single Leg Balance Exercise

  • Position yourself next to a wall for stability and face side-on to the wall.

  • Stand on one leg with a slight bend in the standing knee with one hand on the wall for support.

  • Maintain this position for up to 1 minute if possible. Repeat up to 5 times, 3 times per day if possible.


Exercises To Do After Knee Ligament Injury 

Consistently performing exercises after knee ligament injury is pivotal to effective rehabilitation. It will help you regain strength, mobility and stability in the knee. It will also help strengthen the muscles that surround the knee which is important for maintaining the robustness of the knee. Some exercises to do after a knee ligament injury include:

Knee Flexion With Overpressure

  • Start by lying on the floor with your back supported at a 45-degree angle with your legs extended in front of you.

  • Wrap a towel or something similar around the ankle of your injured leg.

  • Pull the towel towards you to help increase the bend in the knee. Only go as far as you comfortably can.

  • Hold this position for up to 20 seconds, repeating 3 to 4 times.

Knee Extension

  • Begin by lying on your front with your knees down to your feet hanging off the end of the bed or sofa.

  • Tense the muscles at the front of the knee.

  • Hold the tension in the muscle for up to 20 seconds and repeat 3 to 4 times.


woman exercising after knee injury


Exercises To Strengthen Thigh Muscles After Knee Injury

A key part of knee rehabilitation after injury is the strengthening of the muscles in and around the knee, including the thigh muscles. Strengthening your thigh muscles can improve joint stability, range of motion and help reduce pain & strain in the knee. Exercises to accomplish this include: 

Inner Range Quad Strengthening Exercise

  • Begin by placing a rolled-up towel under your knee and have your other leg bent whilst you’re lying down. 

  • Bring your toes towards you and straighten your leg as much as you can whilst keeping it on the towel.

  • Hold this position for 5 seconds then carefully lower your leg back down to the floor.

Mini Squats

  • Grab a chair and stand facing the back of the chair.

  • Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place your hands on the back of the chair for stability.

  • Start by lowering your body by bending your knees and keeping your back straight and chest up.

  • Lower down as far as you can comfortably go.

  • Slowly lift your body back up to the starting position and repeat 5 times. 


Reach Your Recovery Goals With Village Gym

Village Gym is equipped with a range of state-of-the-art equipment that will help facilitate your rehabilitation goals. We have a number of low-impact machines available and premium swimming pools across our sites with aqua exercise classes available to people of all levels and abilities. 

Aqua aerobics are excellent for injury recovery as these classes are a low-impact and low-intensity way in which you can build back your overall strength - be it a knee injury, leg injury, ankle injury, or any other kind of muscular injury. 

If you want a more personalised experience, we have expert trainers to help guide you in your journey, making workouts tailored to your needs, abilities and goals.

It’s important that you consult with a medical professional before exercising to avoid reinjury or further damage.

FAQs About Exercising After A Knee Injury

What exercises to avoid after knee dislocation?

  • Exercises involving sudden changes in direction or twisting

  • Running

  • Jumping

  • Exercises that include heavy weights

What exercises to avoid after a knee replacement?

It is recommended that you avoid any high-impact exercise or contact sport. Consult with a healthcare professional before carrying out exercises to avoid hindering recovery.

How long after a knee injury can I exercise?

It’s key to be active without making your knee worse. Being consistent with rehabilitation movements is important to get back to usual activities. It can take between 6 and 8 weeks before you can return to normal activity and sport.


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