A basic rehab program for a lateral knee ligament sprain. This will vary from patient to patient depending on a number of factors including the grade or severity of injury.
The following example is for information purposes only. We recommend seeking professional advice before attempting any rehabilitation.
Aims of Rehabilitation
The aims of lateral ligament injury rehabilitation are to reduce pain and swelling, restore full mobility, strength and stability and gradually return to full activity. Below are examples of lateral ligament rehab programs for grade 1, grade 2 and grade 3 ligament injuries.
Grade 2 Injury
For a grade 2 are more severe and require a slower and longer rehabilitation programme. The rehabilitation guidelines for a grade 2 lateral ligament sprain can be split into 4 phases:
Phase 1: Immediately following injury
- Aims: Reduce pain and swelling, ensure the knee can be fully straightened and bent to 90°
- Duration: 3 weeks
- Stop play or competition immediately
- Apply cold therapy and compression. Apply ice / cold therapy for 15 minutes every 2 hours for the first 2 days and gradually reduce the frequency to 3 times a day over the next week
- You may need to use crutches
- Rest from all aggravating activities
- Wear a knee brace to support the ligament
- Pain free stretches for the hamstrings, quads and calf muscles in particular
- Sports massage (gentle cross frictions) may be possible from day 3 but allow a week for more severe injuries
- As pain allows, static quads and hamstring exercises, double leg calf raises.
- Maintain aerobic fitness on stationary cycle as soon as pain allows
Phase 2: 3 weeks following injury
- Aims: Eliminate swelling, full weight bearing on the injured knee, full range of motion, increase strength in the injured leg.
- Duration: 3 weeks
- Continue with cold therapy and compression to eliminate swelling, particularly following exercises.
- Strengthening exercises - Half squats, step-ups, hip raises, hamstring curls and single leg calf raises.
- It may be possible to begin to swim (not breaststroke!) or use a stepper for aerobic fitness.
Phase 3: 6 weeks following injury
- Aims: Full range of motion, strength, and return to light jogging and by week 8
- Duration: 4 weeks
- Continue with cold therapy following training sessions
- Wear a brace or support as required
- Sports massage techniques to the ligament 2 to 3 times a week
- Strengthening exercises as above increasing intensity and moving double leg exercises to single
- After week 8, no sooner, begin to run - no sudden changes of direction though
Phase 4: 10 weeks following injury
- Aims: Return to full sports specific training and competition without a brace for support, full strength and mobility.
- Duration: 2 to 4 weeks.
- Start to add in sideways and backwards running drills
- Then introduce changes of direction.
- Kicking a ball should now be possible for football (soccer) players.
- Start to return to training, provided all exercises so far are pain free.
- Gradually bring into training more and more sports specific drills, changing direction and plyometric (hopping and bounding) exercises