A common knee injury is the meniscus tear. The meniscus is a rubbery, C-shaped disc that cushions your knee. The knee has two menisci, one on the outer edge of the knee and one on the inner edge. The menisci keep your knees steady by balancing your weight. A torn meniscus can prevent your knee from working correctly.
A tear is usually caused by twisting or turning quickly. Meniscus tears can occur when you lift something heavy or play sports. Unfortunately, the older you get, your meniscus gets worn. This can make it tear easily.
Strenuous exercise can tear the meniscus, a layer of cartilage in the knee — and certain gentle exercises may help with recovery. So here are some exercises to help recovery and prevention:
1. Mini squats:
Mini squats can help strengthen the quadriceps, large muscles at the front of the thigh, without putting too much pressure on the knees.
- Stand with the back, shoulders, and head against a wall.
- The feet should be shoulder-width apart and about 1 foot away from the wall.
- Slightly bend the knees, bringing the buttocks toward the ground.
- At around 15 degrees of the bend, stop.
- Hold the position for 10 seconds, then slowly bring the body back up to the starting position, keeping the back and shoulders against the wall.
- Perform 2 sets of 8–10 repetitions. Rest for between 30 seconds and 1 minute between the sets.
2. Quadriceps setting:
This is isometric, meaning that it exercises the muscles by keeping the body in a static position.
- Sit or lie flat on the ground, with the legs extended away from the body.
- Contract the quadriceps, using them to push the backs of the knees toward the floor.
- Hold this position for 10–20 seconds.
- Perform 2 sets of 10 contractions, resting for between 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets.
3. Straight leg raise:
This exercise stretches the hamstrings and strengthens the quadriceps.
- Lie on the floor with the left foot flat and the right leg extended.
- Keeping the back and pelvis in a neutral position, flex the right foot and tighten the right thigh muscles, slowly lifting the right leg off the floor.
- After lifting the right leg to around 45 degrees, slowly lower it back to the floor.
- Perform 2 sets of 10 repetitions before switching to the left leg.
Related article: 8 Stretch Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain
4. Hamstring curls:
This exercise strengthens the hamstrings, which are muscles at the backs of the thighs.
- Lie on the stomach, keeping the legs straight.
- Slowly bend the right knee, lifting the right foot toward the buttocks.
- Slowly lower the right foot.
- Perform 2 sets of 8–10 repetitions, resting for around 30 seconds.
- Repeat this with the left leg.
Related article: Reduce Back Pain With These 1 Minute Stretching Exercises
5. Standing heel raises:
This exercise is good for building strength in the calf muscles.
- Stand with the feet hip-width apart, with the hands resting on a heavy, solid piece of furniture for support.
- Slowly lift the heels off the floor as far as is comfortable.
- Pause in this position, then slowly lower the heels to the floor.
- Perform 3 sets of 8–10 repetitions, resting for 30 seconds to 1 minute between sets.
This exercise works many different muscles, including the hip abductors and the muscles of the buttocks.
- Lie on the left side, keeping the hips and feet aligned at all times.
- Bend the knees 45 degrees, and slowly raise the top knee as high as possible without moving the lower back or pelvis.
- Slowly lower the top knee to its starting position.
- Perform 2 sets of 8–10 repetitions, resting for around 1 minute between sets.
- Repeat on the right side.