A hyperextended knee can result in persistent, niggling discomfort or worse, serious injury. The method of treatment following any such acute injury will vary depending on the severity of the injury. In many cases, recovery time can be reduced through active therapy such as exercise. The most crucial aspect is to return to action soon and ensure that no further damage is done to the joint.
Following a hyperextended knee, immediate action should be taken to help reduce recovery time and discomfort. The following steps are the standard response to any acute injury.
- Rest – To limit weight bearing activity on the injured knee until the diagnosis is made in order to avoid increased injury.
- Ice -To reduce the swelling in and around the joint to allow for a better recovery in a reduced time.
- Compression – As above, assists in reducing the swelling.
- Elevation – Elevate the joint above the level of the heart to reduce increased blood flow and decrease swelling severity.
A warning before going on:
Before taking the advice below regarding treatment from a hyperextended knee it is important to have the knee checked for structural damage. A hyperextended knee can cause damage to the ACL, meniscus which can often require surgery and a much longer recovery time. It is exceptionally important to ensure that the joint structure is sound before you commence any active therapy such as exercise. Assuming your hyperextended knee has not caused any structural damage and you have been checked by a physician then the following treatment options can be explored to aid in your recovery.
Your road to recovery will require a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises to help your recovery. Both factors are necessary to help support the joint under load following an injury. Although the injured limb is the target of our therapy, both limbs should partake some or all of the following tasks. A hyperextended knee requires some self limitation and exercises prescription should only be performed beneath the pain threshold.
Following a brief period of inactivity immediately following a hyperextended knee, muscle behaviour is affected in the injured joint. It is therefore vital to ensure the muscles are lengthened to ensure full recovery and prevent future re-injury.
The hamstring is one of the major muscles acting on the knee joint. In some cases it can be strained following a hyperextended knee and will require more rest time before being stretched. All stretches should be performed to a level of “mild discomfort” and not cause pain.
- Keep the black flat while stretching the hamstring.
- Opposite leg should be flat/straight ideally.
- Knee of leg being stretched should be straight. (This might mean in the leg being at a lower angle to allow the leg & knee to remain straight)
- Avoid bringing the toe up closer towards the face (this will result in a calf stretch rather than hamstring see: maximising hamstring exercises)
- Ideally perform the stretch while on the ground to reduce weight bearing load and to promote stretch reflexes
- If standing, ensure you are holding onto a stable surface.
- Keep torso straight and avoid hunching over
- To increase the stretch pull thigh back and away
- Butterfly stretch – seated with soles of feet together, lower knees towards the ground
- Standing side lunge
- Knee bent in front of body in a lunge
- Figure 4 stretch while lying on your back
Strengthening the quads might be the best way to ensure a speedy and full recovery. Additionally, strong and durable quads will minimise the risk of hyperextended knee injuries.
Initially following an injury each leg should be trained in isolation to prevent over compensation.
- Box squat
- Single Leg Box Squat
- Reverse Lunges
- Bulgarian Split Squat
- Glute Bridge (Both legs and single leg)
- Romanian Deadlift (RDL)
One you are confident that the joint is almost back to 100% and that the above exercise have not aggravated the injury you can slowly ease back into sport specific training.
- Straight line jogging
- Straight line sprinting
- Jogging with angled cuts
- Sprinting and cutting
- Minor jumping (eg skipping)
- Maximal effort jumping (eg box jumps)
Although a hyperextended knee can be a form of persistent niggling, through exercise therapy, recovery can be optimised. First and most importantly, ensure there is no structural damage. Then follow a stringent program of stretching and strengthening to get back to 100%. Hope you have a speedy recovery.