The following leg exercises are used as part of knee rehabilitation and thigh rehab programs. For hamstring exercises specifically for a hamstring strain see our hamstring rehab section.
We have split the exercises into early stage (easy) which can usually begin within a few days of injury, mid stage (more difficult) which will make up the bulk of a knee or hamstring rehab program and late stage (or functional) exercises which are more closely related to the demands of the sport.
Some exercises may overlap and early, mid or late stages.
The best knee strengthening exercises for you will depend on the nature of your injury and stage of rehabilitation which is why we always recommend seeking professional advice before starting any rehab exercises. All hamstring and knee exercises should be done pain free. If it hurts then don't do it!
The knee joint is probably the most commonly injured body part, especially in sporting situations, but it is also prone to degenerative conditions as it is a weight bearing joint.
In terms of exercise rehabilitation for knee injuries, the main aims are to increase knee mobility back to full, pain-free range of motion, followed by increasing the strength of the surrounding muscles (the quads, hamstrings and calf muscles primarily).
These are exercises where there is no movement also called static contractions. They are often done in the very early stages of injury rehabilitation as soon as pain allows. The athlete will contract the muscle against resistance either supplied by a therapist or partner, a wall or floor or even the muscles themselves in the case of static quad contractions.
Eccentric exercises involve loading the muscle as it lengthens for example when performing a squad where you push up with both legs but lower down slowly with one. The higher load is as the quadriceps muscle is lengthening. Eccentric hamstring exercises can be performed by a therapist straightening the leg as the athlete tries to resist.