Exercise for Bad Knees


Authored by Victor Roffel in Exercise 
Published on 11-13-2009

Knee pain, knee tendonitis, jumper’s knee, patella fracture, etc., are all knee injuries an individual can suffer from. Most doctors and physical therapists will tell the patient to keep resting and do knee extensions for rehabilitation. This might not be optimal and will be addressed later in the article.

Rehabilitation of the knee will differ depending on the degree of seriousness of the injury. A fracture will need as long as 6-12 months to heal, whereas normal knee pain can be healed as fast as a week. Rehabilitation is relative to every person and copying others rehab program can and will cause harm in the long run. The exercises listed here are meant as ideas which you can implement into a rehabilitation program. Take precautions and seek advice from a physical therapist who knows what he’s talking about.

TKE (Terminal knee extensions)

Instead of leg extensions on a machine, terminal knee extensions are much more effective. The angle and force in which the leg extension machine does is actually detrimental to an injured knee. A full range of motion when doing leg extensions will put the patella in an extremely sensitive position. Any use of heavy weight or reckless movement when doing full range leg extensions can cause your knee to re-injure itself.

The terminal knee extension has almost the same motor patterns as the leg extension. The difference is that terminal knee extensions use bands and the range of motion is not dangerous. Simply set up the band on a firm stand at a little above ankle level. Put one leg inside and walk back until a good stretch and resistance is felt. Bend the knee slightly while keeping the heel down on the ground. Extend the knee back into a straight leg position while still keeping the heel on the ground. The

muscle on the thigh which resembles a ‘tear-drop’ must be activated or you’re doing the exercise wrongly. The ‘tear-drop’ muscle is located near the knee on the inside of your thighs. To see how it’s done, click here.

Terminal knee extensions are much better than leg extensions when rehabbing the knee. That is not to say that knee extensions are a bad exercise, it just means that it isn’t as effective. If you do leg extensions, be wary of putting on too much weight on the machine.

Full squats

That’s right. Deep full range of motion squats is actually good for the knees! It is a popular belief that squats are bad for the knees because of the flexion of the knees. This is not true. Squats done with full range of motion will actually increase knee tendon strength and the muscles around it. Partial squats on the other hand, are actually potentially much more dangerous than full squats. Without going in further into the great debate, just take note that full squats are actually better for the knee.

Although this may seem contradictory, a full squat immediately after recovering from an injury is not advisable. Start out by executing bodyweight squats. Depending on the injury, you may need to start with a bodyweight partial squat until the knee feels better. Once a bodyweight full squat can be achieved, keep the form and slowly work up to using weights on the barbell. With time, the knee will be strengthened and injuries will then become uncommon.

Bad knees are no doubt a pain. Try out these exercises in your rehab program and see how they feel. But keep in mind that this does not substitute for medical advice. Seek a professional and smart physical therapist for a complete assessment of your situation.


  • Leg Extensions vs. Squats

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