Of all the joints in the body, it is the knee that probably takes the biggest pounding during fitness tests and while living an active military life. Knee injuries can be particularly problematic to solve, but doing knee injury rehabilitation exercises will help strengthen the joint and get it back to something like its best.
In this article, we’re going to explore some of the most effective knee injury rehabilitation exercises for military personnel and veterans recovering from knee injuries and knee surgery. We’ll also look at a few natural ways to relieve the pain of knee injuries, including a new product from a brand called To Better Days, which has proved to be effective at reducing knee pain for some members of the military.
Knee Injury Rehabilitation Exercises
1. Leg Raises
The leg raise is one of the best stretches to strengthen the quadriceps, which play a vital role in knee stability.
Just lie on your back and bend one leg at the knee so your foot is flat on the floor. Keeping the other leg straight, raise it off the floor by around 30cms and point your toes diagonally away from you. Hold for 10 seconds and then lower your leg back to the floor. Repeat this movement around 10 times on each leg.
2. Knee Locking
If you have been through knee surgery, particularly anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery, this is an exercise that you can do early on in your recovery.
Sit down with your legs directly in front of you and put a rolled-up towel under the heel of the affected leg. Then use your quadricep to push the heel down on the towel as much as you can. That will straighten the leg a little and help to strengthen the knee. Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat 15-20 times.
3. Standing Hamstring Curl
The standing hamstring curl is an effective way to strengthen the muscles around the knee without the risks associated with impact.
Stand straight with your knees no more than two inches apart and hold onto a stable surface for balance. Keeping your thighs aligned, lift the heel of one leg off the floor and bend the knee behind your body. Continue lifting the heel in a smooth motion until it reaches a 90-degree angle, then hold the bent leg for five seconds before lowering it slowly to the floor. Repeat five times and switch sides.
4. Half Squat
The half squat, with your knees and feet turned out to the side, is an exercise that can provide patellar tendonitis pain relief, which is a common injury resulting from military fitness tests.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and turned out at a 45-degree angle. Then, with your back straight, slowly bend your knees and lower your body one-quarter of the way to the floor. Repeat eight times.
5. Heal Slides
A meniscus tear is another of the common knee injuries suffered by military personnel. Heel slides play an important role in recovering from surgery for a meniscus tear, and research shows that physical therapy for a meniscus injury could even help you avoid surgery.
Lie on your back with your legs out in front of you and gradually slide the heel of the affected leg up towards your bottom, allowing the knee to bend as much as possible. Then allow your heel to slowly slide back to the straight-knee position. Repeat this exercise 10 times and keep the motion smooth and slow throughout.
6. Step Exercise
Step exercises are a great way to strengthen the muscles around the knee and potentially alleviate the symptoms of knee injuries. However, if you feel any pain during your step exercises, stop doing them and speak to a physical therapist.
Use an exercise platform or step that’s no more than six inches off the ground. Step onto the platform with one foot and allow the other foot to hang behind it. Keep your body weight on the front foot and hold for five seconds. The knee should remain slightly bent. Then, slowly lower the back leg to the floor and let the other leg follow it. Switch legs and repeat.
Knee Injuries and Natural Pain Relief
There are a number of natural remedies that can be effective in reducing the pain associated with common knee injuries. A healthy, anti-inflammatory diet is an excellent starting point and this lifestyle change will also benefit you in many other ways. Physical therapy and even acupuncture can also have a positive effect.
Another lesser-known method of natural relief that has been used successfully by members of the armed forces is To Better Days’ Active Patches. Andrew, who serves in the British Army, believes they have helped to relieve the pain from patellar tendonitis in his left knee.
“In the beginning, I was worried that the improvement was a placebo effect – it was almost too good to be true. What’s more, I was worried about whether the improvement was short term or whether it was actually making the area better. So I stopped using them and today my knee still gets the odd niggle or stiffness in the morning, but I’m 90% recovered from the injury.”
Always Consult a Medical Practitioner
Recovering from knee injuries or surgery takes time. Although it can be frustrating, doing too much too soon can set your recovery back considerably and even re-aggravate the injury. You should always consult a physical therapist or doctor to ensure the exercises you’re doing will help restore the normal mechanics of your knee joint and get you back to full fitness without heightening the risks.