Knee Extension – Best Range of Motion Exercises

Getting your knee to zero degrees after knee surgery, especially ACL surgery, can be very difficult. It can be very tempting to have your leg elevated and bent comfortably with a pillow supporting it. Here are some of the best knee extension range of motion exercises you can do to make sure you get full range of motion back as quickly as possible.

Knee Extension Exercise 1 – Heel Prop

This is the first and most basic exercise to promote full knee extension after ACL surgery. It can be started right away, in the video below I am starting this exercise within the first few days after ACL surgery.

Knee Extension Exercise 2 – Quad Sets

Many of the next exercises to promote full leg extension after knee surgery are some variation of the heel prop. The first and most basic variation is using your legs muscle to help promote the straightening of the knee. Simply put a towel or something similar under your knee and flex your quad pushing the back of your knee into the towel, this will promote both muscle growth and encourage your knee to get back to zero degrees.

Knee Extension Exercise 3 – Heel Prop with weight

With your leg as straight as it can go and your heel propped up on a towel or chair apply light weight initially to the top of the knee encouraging the knee to straighten. This can be a potentially dangerous exercise if you place too much weight on your knee, therefore make sure to start light and gradually build.

Knee Extension Exercise 4 – Prone Leg Hangs

This is a more advanced exercise that can be started in the second or third week after ACL surgery to help promote getting your leg back to full extension. The first step is to lie face down on a bench with your lower leg hanging off the back of the bench. Relax your leg and let it hang as straight as possible.

Best Knee Extension Tip

The last tip is not an exercise but is very important if you are wanting to be able to get your knee back to zero degrees flexion after ACL Surgery…

As soon as possible when you sleep dont leave your knee propped up with a pillow, instead try and have your knee fully extended the full night. The support of the mattress is enough for the knee and the sretch overnight will greatly improve your range of motion.

After the first week I was struggling to get to zero degrees range of motion in my knee, however I started sleeping with my knee as close to zero degrees as was reasonably comfortable and very quickly after I was able to get to zero degrees.

If you have any other tips on how to get to full knee extension after ACL surgery, please share it below…