For acute knee injuries, most health professionals use RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.
1. Rest your knee. Take a few days off from intense activities.
2. Ice your knee to reduce the swelling and pain. Ice for 15-20 minutes at a time 2-3 times a day for 2-3 days.
3. Compress your knee with an elastic bandage. It will keep the swelling down and add support.
4. Elevate your knee. Use a pillow under your knee when sitting or lying down. Keeping your knee propped up will cut down on swelling.
Stretching improves the knee range of motion. Achieving the full range of motion of your knee is critical to recovery. There are different types of stretching techniques you can use.
1. Static stretching is held in place for 10-30 seconds.
2. Dynamic stretching uses lunges to engage the surrounding muscles.
3. Ballistic stretching uses bouncing movements in a rhymic way.
4. PNF is Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. PNF is an advanced form of stretching. It usually requires two people to perform the stretch.
Once your the pain and swelling in your knee have gone down, strengthing techniques are next. Engaging the muscles around the knee will improve the stability of the knee. Before starting any exercise warm up your muscles by walking or cycling. Here are some strengthening exercises for your knee .
1. Straight leg lifts – lay on back with one leg bent and the other straight. Lift the straight leg about 12 inches off the floor for 3-5 seconds.
2. Hamstring curls – stand holding a chair and bring one leg behind you bending at the knee. Hold it for 3-5 seconds at a 90-degree angle.
Your hip and leg muscles provide stability to your knee. Developing the tone in these muscles will improve your knee extension and ROM (range of motion). Strong hips and leg muscles will allow your knee to perform its intended function. Leg lifts while lying on your side is one of many exercises to increase stability in the knee. Another stability exercise is leg extensions while sitting down. Sit in a chair, extend one leg, and hold for five seconds. Leg extensions work the quadriceps, hip adductors, and abductors.
Too much weight will cause stress to the knee. Whether the pressure is from fat or muscles, it will put undue strain on the knee. Every individual will have to decide how to reduce your body weight. If you lift weights and have low body fat, you may need to cut back on lifting. On the other hand, if you have high body fat and weak muscle tone you may want to lift weights more until you find a balance.