When it comes to ACL rehab normalizing range of motion (ROM) is super important especially in the early stages. It can be really hard and frustrating to regain the knees ability to bend and straighten. This article will go over two exercises that I love to help people struggling with their knee mobility.
BRIEF BIOMECHANICS BREAKDOWN (Trust me it will help it all make sense).
The knee is commonly advertised as a hinge joint. When you hear the word hinge joint, if the image conjured up is that of a door hinge you would be correct. A hinge joint can only bend two directions. In the case of the knee that is flexion (bent) and extension (straight). While flexion and extension are its main movements, there are relative motions of the knee that occur to get flexion and extension.
For instance to get full knee flexion, the lower leg bone (the tibia) must internally rotate on the upper leg bone (the femur) to get full knee flexion. In contrast, to get full knee extension the lower leg bone (the tibia) must externally rotate on the lower leg bone (the femur).
These are much smaller motions but they are often neglected by those trying to improve their knee ROM. I have found that by addressing the knees ability to rotate we are able to get much smoother and better ROM improvements even in the stubborn knees.
Hopefully you are still awake after that. Take home message if you didn't get all of that. The knee doesn't just bend and straighten, it also rotates!
TWO EXERCISES FOR TIBIAL ROTATION
Here are two of my favorite exercises for early stage ACL rehab to get the knee moving and rotating to unlock your flexion and extension.
Cues: one hand on the femur don't let the femur move, one hand on the tibia, feel the tibia rotate, try and use the foot a little as possible and feel the rotation coming form the knee vs just the foot pulling it a long
Cues: grab the lower leg, as you push the knee forward (flexion) rotate your hands inward, as your rock backward rotate your hands outward. Really feel the knee rotating in and out.
If you are struggling to gain ROM, try these two exercises out! Feel free to reach out with any questions!
We look forward to hearing from you!