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Knee Rehabilitation High Demand

Welcome to our Knee Rehabilitation-High Demand video series. This program is designed for patients wanting to get back to high-demand work, sports and recreational activity following knee injury or surgery. These videos should not be used as a substitute for regular physical therapy visits and guidance from your physician.

Click here to download a pdf version of the Knee Rehabilitation – High Demand Guide

PHASE I – PREVENT DECONDITIONING AND STIFFNESS

GOALS: Activate the muscles; restore range of motion.

KEY POINTS: 

  • Minimize pain and swelling after injury or surgery by icing and elevating the leg.
    • Ice for 15 minutes three times daily for first 3 days.
    • Elevate the leg above the level of your heart when sedentary.
    • Regain full extension [straightening] of the knee ASAP – see exercise 2. Do as often as possible until full motion achieved.
    • Balance exercises help regain postural stability – start with eyes open; progress to eyes closed.
    • Perform exercises two times daily; do 1-2 sets of 12-15 repetitions for each exercise.

    PHASE 2 – EARLY STRENGTHENING

    GOALS: Begin muscle re-conditioning.

    KEY POINTS:

    • Continue exercises twice daily.
    • Stretching exercises: Hold for 30 seconds, relax for 15 seconds; do 5 reps of each stretch.
    • Strengthening exercises: Perform 1-2 sets of 12-15 repetitions.
    • Ice for 10 minutes after exercise to prevent inflammation.
    • Typically this phase is done during weeks 2-4 after knee arthroscopy.

    PHASE 3 – ADVANCED STRENGTHENING

    GOALS: Strengthen hip, quad, hamstring and calf muscles to restore functional stability to the knee.

    KEY POINTS:

    • Conduct 3-4 times per week with increasing intensity.
    • Exercises may be conducted in gym on machines.
    • Perform 2 sets of 15 repetitions each exercise.
    • Avoid knee extension machine.
    • Running program – start with walk/run intervals and progress to full running.
    • Cross-train to avoid irritation (e.g.,: bike, elliptical, treadmill on alternate days)
    • Typically this phase is done weeks 4-6 following knee arthroscopy.

    PHASE 4 – PLYOMETRICS AND AGILITY

    GOAL: Return to sports and high-level activity.

    KEY POINTS:

    • Continue Phase 3 exercises.
    • Conduct agility drills on jump mat / yoga mat or place two parallel 8-foot long strips of tape on floor three feet apart to define boundary for exercises.
    • Advance cardiovascular training as tolerated.
    • Add these exercises to Phase 3 program as tolerated as strength improves. They will help maximize and expedite return to full sports activity.
    • Start with 30 second duration per exercise; advance to 60 seconds per exercise – do as many repetitions as possible in allotted time.

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