Though it often goes untreated, a torn meniscus can cause immense pain and discomfort. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the damage. However, several stretches can be performed in the comfort of your own home to help ease the pain and promote healing. The following nine stretches are some of the best for a torn meniscus.
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What Is a Meniscus Tear?
A meniscus tear is an injury to the stabilizing cartilage found between the thigh and shin bones, which helps to enhance knee stabilization and movement. It takes various forms, with symptoms ranging from pain, swelling, and stiffness due to the swelling of fluid in the knee joint all the way through to clicking or catching in extreme cases. Meniscus tears can be caused by normal wear and tear over time and acute trauma such as twisting or squatting awkwardly.
Treatment will depend on the severity, where options range from rest, ice, and pain relief medications to surgical repair for more severe cases. Regardless of the treatment option, prompt assessment by a doctor is advised for any suspected meniscus injury to reduce long-term damage and ultimately help restore full movement in the knee.
How Long Does a Meniscus Tear Take to Recover?
The recovery process for a meniscus tear can vary widely and depends on the severity of the injury. Treatment duration is typically anywhere from days to weeks, though it can be longer if the damage is more extensive or surgery is required.
Typically, those who have experienced a meniscus tear will find relief through conservative treatment with certain therapeutic exercises that aid in strengthening and stability progressions. This can be monitored closely by an orthopedic specialist who determines how long an individual must take part in physical therapy before considering returning to normal activities.
Full recovery after a tear can also include rehabilitation and lifestyle factors such as proper nutrition and sleep hygiene. It’s important to remember that although recovery times may vary, seeking medical attention promptly greatly improves one’s prognosis for a successful recovery.
9 Best Stretches Torn Meniscus Stretches
To help reduce the pain and swelling associated with a meniscus tear, it’s important to engage in stretches that help promote healing. Here are nine of the best:
Mini squats can be an effective exercise for people with a meniscus tear. The mini squats help improve the ability to move freely around the knee joints, strengthening and improving flexibility in the surrounding muscles and ligaments. This can be beneficial for those who have had medial meniscus surgery or are already recovering from a torn meniscus.
- To perform mini squats, one must maintain good posture throughout the movement, keeping their head up and back straight.
- Keeping the feet flat on the floor and slightly wider than hip-width apart, slowly squat down to just above 90 degrees at the knee.
- It is important for individuals not to push themselves too far on their first few attempts; focus instead on maintaining good form and stability to avoid any further injury or aggravation of previous injuries.
- Then repeat this motion 15 times, and rest for 30 seconds before repeating another 15 repetitions of mini squats two more times.
Quadriceps setting is an often overlooked exercise, but it can greatly benefit those suffering from a meniscus tear. This exercise involves standing and contracting the large muscles on the front of your thigh, known as the quadriceps. This movement helps stabilize the knee joint and takes tension off the involved area by carefully loading the soft tissue around it. In addition, the quadriceps setting strengthens the general area, increasing static and dynamic stability in the knee joint and reducing pain with movement.
- To perform this exercise, simply stand up straight, engage your core, and then tighten your quadricep muscles until you feel them contract.
- Hold for five seconds before releasing.
- Repeat four times daily for best results.
Straight Leg Raise
The Straight Leg Raise is an exercise commonly utilized to address acute trauma, such as a meniscus tear. In addition, it can be useful in restoring proper movement and function of the knee joint after injury. By activating the hip flexors, hamstring muscles, calf muscles, gluteal muscles, and deeper trunk stabilizers that support the knee joint, this exercise helps build strength and stability to reduce pain.
- To perform it correctly, lay down on your back with one leg straightened out and the other off the ground at a 90-degree angle.
- Contract your abdominal muscles to ensure your hips are not sinking to raise your leg off of the ground towards the ceiling.
- As you lift up your leg towards the ceiling, keep both legs aligned with each other (not tilted inward or outward).
- Hold for 3- 5 seconds before lowering and repeating with the same number of repetitions on each side.
Prone hang is a therapeutic exercise recommended to aid the healing process of a meniscus tear. This gentle yet effective exercise helps restore range of motion, reduce pain and improve tendon strength. It is important when performing this exercise that the individual only performs it as far as they are comfortable with; pushing too hard too soon could slow down the recovery process or cause further injury.
- To perform prone hang, begin by lying face down on either an exercise mat or other padded surface.
- Subsequently, lift your legs, arms, and chest off the ground with elbows straight, like you would in a plank position; hold for around 30 seconds and then rest for double the amount of time before repeating again for 10-15 repetitions.
When performing this exercise, no pain should be felt; if so, stop immediately and talk to your healthcare provider. Prone hang can help expedite meniscus tear recovery over time with repetitive activity – from improving mobility to reducing inflammation.
Performing hamstring curls strengthens the muscles on either side of the knee, alleviating tension while stretching and strengthening the affected area, improving the range of motion and stability.
- To complete a proper hamstring curl, kneel with one leg forward and slightly bent.
- Slowly extend the front knee as far as possible without compromising your balance or comfort level.
- Hold this stretched state briefly before gradually returning to the starting position – repeat this movement for several repetitions.
- As strength increases, it may be possible to perform hamstring curls standing with one foot planted firmly on the ground, using a resistance band underneath both feet for additional support and intensity.
By combining regular hamstring curls with stretching sessions and other exercises focused on meniscus tear recovery, those prone to such injuries will find increased mobility and lessened discomfort.
Hamstring Heel Digs
Hamstring heel digs involve gently pressing the heel into the ground while also extending and flexing the leg, focusing on the hamstring area. This increases flexibility and range of motion while minimizing pain. When performing a hamstring heel dig, it is important to adjust your position so that the pressure goes right down the back of your thigh rather than on your kneeling knee.
Also, ensure that you feel no strain around your kneecap by slightly tilting it towards the ground if necessary. With regular practice, this technique could help relieve symptoms of a meniscus tear over time.
Standing Heel Raises
Standing heel raises are an exercise that can help alleviate symptoms from a meniscus tear.
- The exercise is fairly simple: begin standing with feet hip-width apart, and the knees bend slightly.
- Hold onto a chair for balance if needed. Raise the heels slowly, then slowly lower back to starting position.
This exercise helps improve strength in the quadriceps at the front of the thighs and targets the lower body muscles for improved balance and stability of the knee joint. In turn, this can provide support to the meniscus, reducing the aggravation of symptoms from a meniscal tear and improving the overall strength and stability of surrounding joints and muscles. Highly recommended for individuals with knee problems resulting from a meniscal tear or injury.
Clams are a specific exercise for rehabilitating a meniscus tear, with multiple beneficial effects. Used to strengthen and improve knee joint stability, the clams exercise works by isometrically contracting the hip muscles to activate the gluteal muscles on the side of the injured knee. This can prevent further injury and improve knee range of motion while providing much-needed relief.
- To perform this move, users should lie down on their side with their feet stacked, one on top of the other at a 90-degree angle.
- Keeping your hips still, knees bent, lift your upper leg without cocking your hips or rotating them open or closed.
- Hold that position for five seconds before slowly lowering into the starting position.
- Perform 10-15 reps before switching sides and repeating that process.
Used properly under medical supervision, this exercise can help rehabilitate a meniscus tear injury efficiently.
Leg extensions are a great exercise for anyone looking to strengthen their leg muscles, particularly those who have suffered from a meniscus tear. Not only do they build muscular strength, but they also increase the range of motion in the knee, which can be very beneficial in the recovery process after a meniscus tear.
- When performing this simple yet effective exercise, it is important to avoid any discomfort or pain and take care when lowering your leg back down.
- You should do this slowly and with control until your heel is just above the ground before returning to the starting position.
- Leg extensions are an effective way to strengthen muscles at any level and can help facilitate a speedy recovery following a Meniscus tear.