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Exercise for Knee Injuries

February 5, 2024

Now straight off the bat I will admit that this title is a little misleading as no one exercise can prevent ALL injuries, however this one will do a huge amount to reduce the risk of ACL, meniscal, medial collateral ligament injuries, patellar tendinopathy and patello-femoral joint maltracking. These injuries are predominately caused by a twisting/pivoting movement of the knee, or weakness in the quadriceps and gluteal muscles.


The single leg squat is fantastic at rehabilitating these injuries as it mimics everyday activities such as standing up, lifting, jumping and climbing. The important part of this exercise is that it teaches you to move your body in a correct pattern, while using one leg. This stops the stronger leg from compensating for the weaker side. An important detail when rehabbing injuries as whenever we walk or run we spend most, if not all, of our time on one leg.


When the single leg squat is performed correctly. The hips should stay level and the knee moves forward and backwards. The knee should not pivot or twist as you bend or straighten the knee. Now this exercise can be very easy or difficult depending on how low you drop your hips.  

In an ideal world, you should be able to stand up from a chair using one leg with minimal momentum from the upper body – so no throwing the chest forward. You should be able to stand up in a controlled manner with the ability to pause for a second at any phase of the movement.


Now when sitting down the movement should be as slow and controlled as possible. Try to lower yourself smoothly and consistently over a two second period. No falling back just before the hips touch the chair.

This is the minimum requirement for preventing the majority of knee injuries. This exercise can be progressed to take into account uneven surfaces and quicker movements. It can also be scaled back to allow for decreased strength or pain that is preventing you from performing the single legs squat correctly.

If you have any questions about knee injuries or the single leg squat. Please call our Dublin city centre Physiotherapy clinic, just off Merrion Square, on 01 441 0100.