Activation Exercises For Knee rehabilitation

These exercises are all about keeping muscles firing and working properly as you recover from injury, particularly the hip muscles. If you have to rest for a period of time then they can ‘go to sleep’ and lose strength, leading to a slower recovery, or poor performance later on.

Clam in flexion

The clam works the muscles on the outside of the hip. Lie on your side with your knees bent and slightly forwards so your hips are in flexion. Raise your knee up in a slow, controlled movement and return to the start position.

Clam in extension

Performing the clam exercise with your knees moved further back places your hips into extension. This targets the muscles on the outside of the hip in a slightly different way. It is important to do these exercises on both sides. Start with the weaker side and do the same number of reps on the strong side.

Quarter squats against wall

Stand next to a wall with a gym ball between you and the wall. Perform a quarter squat on one leg using the ball for support. This targets the posterior chain and gets the muscles firing as they work to stabilize your hip.

Single leg turn outs

Balance on one leg with the other knee bent, foot resting on the inside of the supporting leg. Whilst maintaining your balance turn the knee out and in to work your hip muscles whilst maintaining control and balance.

VMO with hamstring push

This exercise works the vastus medials muscle on the inside of the knee whilst engaging the posterior chain (hamstrings and glutes). The VMO is one of the first muscles to weaken following knee injury and keeping this muscle firing is vital to prevent future knee injuries.

Crab walks

Place a resistance band around your knees and walk sideways. This gets the hip muscles firing and fatiguing under bodyweight load. This is progressed by making the movements more dynamic, performing it faster and on your toes.

Ice skaters

These work the hip muscles under load in a slightly different way but moving forwards. Again, place a resistance band around your knees to increase the load on your lateral hip muscles.


This works the gluteal muscles in particular, as well as bringing your core into play. Place a band around your knees to increase the tension on the outside hip muscles as you perform the exercise. Bridge exercises can be done on the floor, or with feet raised. This is also made more difficult by doing single-leg bridges.

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