12 Nov Knee Extension Exercises for Terminal Knee Extension
Regaining full terminal knee extension is paramount following any knee surgery. The ability to fully extend the knee equal to the other side is usually one of the most important early goals in knee rehab. While there are a ton of knee extension exercises you can do, the most important variable for regaining full terminal knee extension is the amount of volume and time spent working on knee extension. That is undeniably the most important concept to grasp. 3 sets of 1 min of stretches for a total of 3 minutes (out of 1440 minutes in a day aka 0.2% of the day) is just not enough end range stretching to regain full knee extension! Aim for a total of 10 minutes of knee extension exercises at first, then slowly keep adding time until you’re spending at least 30 minutes a day working on terminal knee extension.
Knee Extension Exercises & Tips
Knee extension exercises, especially after surgery, are not going to be comfortable. If they are comfortable, it probably means you’re not doing them correctly! Regardless of the surgery, there will be joint swelling, or effusion, in the knee that will not only cause more pain and discomfort but also limit the amount of motion available at the knee joint. Furthermore, the muscles around the knee will most likely be tense and guarded, meaning soft tissue work and stretching are also warranted. When working on terminal knee extension during your knee extension exercises, try to hold the position or stretch for as long as possible. That may be a few minutes or just 20 seconds! The goal is to work to that uncomfortable phase, then let your knee bend and relax for a minute or two, and then go right back to the knee extension exercise again. The more time you can spend in that end range stretch the better!
Passive Knee Extension Exercises
First, work on regaining full passive knee extension. Passive knee extension is the amount of knee extension/straightening that your knee has if you prop up your foot on a table or chair, letting your knee be suspended in the air.
Seated Knee Extension PROM
Knee Extension with Overpressure
Bang Hangs Knee Extension
Knee Extension Overhaul [P]Rehab Program
This program is for anyone looking to truly [P]Rehab their knee before surgery OR work on regaining their knee extension after a surgery or injury. It’s appropriate for anyone regardless of current fitness level and will build you from the ground up to tolerate the end ranges of knee extension. For more about this program click HERE.
Active Knee Extension Exercises
It’s extremely important to follow up any passive knee extension exercise with active knee exercise exercises to “lock-in” that hopefully newly acquired knee extension range. While the standing terminal knee extension (TKE) is the classic go-to exercise for active knee extension, there are a plethora of other options as well. The key component to every single one of them is to fire your quadriceps muscle and squeeze it as hard as you can. Your goal should be to try to feel a stretch behind the knee. Think of standing tall with each repetition! Below you will find a plethora of our favorite active knee extension exercises, which are all a part of our Knee Extension Overhaul [P]Rehab Program that is proven to restore your knee extension!
Standing 3-Way Terminal Knee Extension
Down Dog Knee Extension TKE
Quad Sets with a Strap
Prone Hips Supported TKE
Cueing for TKE with any closed chain knee exercise (squats, lunge, step-up)
Looking for More Knee [P]Rehab?
Looking for a more generalized program that will also help your knee extension? Our all-encompassing Knee [P]Rehab Program is a 12-week, 3-phase program designed to rebuild your knees from the ground up. Whether you’re a weekend warrior, competitive athlete, superhero parent, or just someone interested in improving their knee health, you can 100% benefit from this program. We make it easy and teach you how to self [P]Rehab your knees and keep them healthy for anything life throws at you through detailed exercise programming and our signature resource videos.
Having adequate knee extension is crucial for knee health and function. Moreover, if it is something that is not worked on early after surgery, it becomes very difficult to regain! There are a plethora of options in regards to exercises that are excellent for regaining knee extension, many of which we have exemplified in this article. Find what works best for you, and stick with it! Consistency is key. as you continue to have a better tolerance to these exercises, try to hold positions longer to have better carry over and ultimate improvements in range of motion!