When it comes to New year resolutions most people after the first month fall off. 

By some estimates, as many as 80% of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions by February. Only 8% of people stick with them the entire year.

I understand that life can get complicated. Sometimes things happen, like sustaining a knee pain.

So picture this: you are set on making 2024 the year where you are going to become the best and fittest you possible. In the process, you injure your knee. Well, this is life and here we are going to do our best to give you 5 things to navigate through that and get back on the horse. 

4 key components of early knee rehab that you can put in place right away following an injury.


Before showing these recommendations, there are 4 important things to know:

  1. You may need a couple of days of relative rest after more severe injuries. For example, if you tore your ACL, you may need to wait 1-3 days for pain or swelling to subside before starting certain exercises.
  2. Talk to your surgeon before starting a new program. You may have surgical precautions to consider. For example, after a medial meniscus repair, weight-bearing and range of motion restrictions are often needed early on.
  3. Knee range of motion will vary from person to person. For example, it might not be workable or necessary to achieve full knee flexion following a total knee replacement.
  4. If you need more help please feel free to contact us and we can set you up with a free assessment!

1. Enhance Knee Straightening

The goal for most individuals will be to have the ability to straighten the knee. Knee injuries that involve swelling can make it difficult to access the full range of motion. A good entry point for addressing this issue would be Knee Extension.

Here are some of my go-to progressions to get you started:

Quad Sets Sitting 

Straighten your leg as best as you can. Then, squeeze your quads (the muscles on the front of your thigh) by trying to push the back of your knee into the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat for 10 repetitions. Do this mutiple times a day, every day.

*If you want to increase the range of motion, use a strap and pull up on your foot to add a calf and hamstring stretch.

Terminal Knee Extensions Standing 

Once you achieve full knee extension, you can add external resistance. For example, use a small ball against a wall or a band anchored to an object. This will help you build strength and control. Your goal is the same – squeeze your quads as you push the back of your knee into a ball or band. Hold for 10 seconds, relax, and repeat.

2. Boost Thigh Muscle Strength

The next turn we will be taking on the adventure is increasing the strength or capacity of the quad muscles. When it comes to knee discomfort, we want to keep in mind that the quads play a direct role in the way our knee extends. They also affect how well we can push into the ground.

We use the next couple of exercises to increase the work we can do with our quadriceps. This can increase our options. 

Straight Leg Raises

Lie on your back with one knee bent. Squeeze your quad to straighten the other leg. Lift that leg until your thighs are in line with one another. Control back down. Build up to 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions.

Straight leg raises are crucial for initial recovery. Progressing to more dynamic exercises, like squats and step-ups, can enhance daily functionality. 

Start with squats by lightly touching a seat with your glutes before standing up again. If this proves difficult or causes discomfort, consider lessening the movement’s depth. You can also use your arms for support.

Supported Squats

Step Ups

Isometric Leg Extension 

To finish, we can increase the function of the quads by using Isometric quad holds. This helps facilitate strength and reduce pain.

You can do these on a machine, with a band, or using a ball against the wall. If a single-leg variation is too challenging or uncomfortable, start by using two legs. Perform daily for 3-5 sets of 30-45 second holds.

3. Improve Knee Bending Ability

Just like knee extension we want to have access to flexion or bending of the knee. At the end of the day, the biggest part of getting more knee function is to increase our range of motion. 

Bike *For Knee Flexion and Tolerance*

To enhance knee bending, consider three approaches. Start with cycling on a stationary bike. Keep the seat elevated. Do partial pedal strokes to comfortably work on knee flexibility. Progressively lower the seat as your capability increases, aiming for complete pedal rotations. Incorporate this exercise into your daily routine. Start with 5 to 25 minutes. Gradually extend the time as your endurance improves. 

Assisted Heel Slides

Lie on your back, and slide your heel as close to your butt as you can using a slider or a sock on hardwood. Pull on a towel or strap to help bend your knee further. Aim for 15-20 repetitions, multiple times a day.

Progress through kneeling exercises to enhance knee mobility, going with the:

Quadruped position to gently stretch, then advancing to taller kneeling postures for increased engagement. Finally,half-kneeling focuses on individual knee flexibility. Maintain each pose briefly, then reset, aiming for 2-3 rounds of 10-20 reps.

4. Mange Symptoms and Flare-ups 

After a knee injury or surgery, managing discomfort, swelling, and stiffness is crucial in rehabilitation. Complete rest isn’t necessary; moderate activity can actually aid recovery. 

Adjust exercise intensity based on your body’s feedback, reducing or increasing efforts as needed. Rehabilitation progress isn’t always linear; expect fluctuations and adapt your routine to minimize setbacks. Using elevation and compression can also alleviate swelling during periods of inactivity.

Let’s say you perform 3 sets of 15 reps of the squat exercise. If you notice a flare-up afterward, such as experiencing significantly more pain, swelling, or joint soreness, you need to scale back the difficulty or amount of exercise you are doing. In this case, you could drop down to 3 sets of 10 repetitions in your next training session.

Conversely, if your knee is feeling good, you can continue by making gradual and incremental progressions. Maybe in the next training session, you decide to increase to 3 sets of 20 repetitions.

And there you have it … These are some ways we can start to increase knee function and reduce the discomfort we are feeling.

Ultimately, we want to start gradually. Then, we’ll little by little increase your chances of doing more work.

In summary, here are the things to consider to recover from the nagging knee pain:

  1. Restore Knee Extension Range of Motion
  2. Improve Quadriceps Function
  3. Restore Knee Flexion Range of Motion
  4. Manage and Monitor Symptoms

Take charge of your knee health! With these exercises and tips, you can actively contribute to a pain-free, active lifestyle. 🏋️‍♂️💪

👨‍⚕️What to do Next??

This is a great place to start. However, like fingerprints, everyone’s different. Some might need a little more attention as to what to do next. If you’re serious about leveling up your knee game, jump into an assessment with one of our practitioners. They’ll lay out a curated plan just for you! 

[Book Your FREE Assessment Here]

Recover, Recharge, Repeat.