When rehabbing a nasty knee injury, there are two key factors—creating equal strength in your leg muscles, and working on balance.
According to Jason McVeigh, head athletic trainer at the University of Tennessee, your leg muscles, primarily the quadriceps and hamstrings, need to work together and share a good balance in strength. “If one is overly strong and the other is weak, you can get an imbalance that can cause the dynamics of your knee to be wrong,” he says.
A rule of thumb, according to McVeigh, is for your hamstrings to be about two-thirds as strong as your quadriceps.
“Your balance work, and the system of your brain feeling the movements in your knee joint and being able to stabilize and fire the right muscles at the right time, are very important,” McVeigh says. “We will do a lot of core balance and stability—one-leg balance—in any kind of rehab of the knee. The strengthening work will be reps and sets starting very early after surgery with simple, straight leg raises with just the weight of the leg.”
Single Leg Raise
• Lying on back, start with leg straight approximately 3 to 6 inches off the ground
• Lift your leg
• Drive leg straight up until its perpendicular to the ground
• Repeat with opposite leg
Coaching Points: Use a controlled movement when lifting leg // Avoid swinging leg
McVeigh: “This will be challenging early on after surgery because of the trauma that happened to the leg from the surgery.”