Rehab Exercises After MCL Injury

An MCL, or medial collateral ligament, injury affects the ligament on the inside portion of your knee 1. Although a full tear might require surgery and weeks of rehabilitation, you may be able to recover from a partial tear or strain to full strength in a matter of days or weeks. Rehab exercises after an MCL injury include stretches and muscle strengthening exercises.


Stretching exercises are designed to loosen up the muscles and joints that surround your injured knee. Although rest and ice will most often be the first steps in your treatment, you will also be combating stiffness due to inactivity. MCL stretching exercises include ankle stretches and lower leg stretches. To perform a basic ankle stretch, sit down on the ground with your injured leg extended and other leg bent at the knee. Extend your toes out and away from your body, pushing forward until you feel a stretch. Hold for 10 seconds before relaxing.

Range of Motion

Range of motion exercises are designed to help return your ligaments to their original elasticity as well as relieve tension placed on your knee joints. To perform a knee extension, lie down on your back with your legs extended. With your arms at your sides, bend your injured knee up and toward your buttocks, contracting it until your foot is flat on the floor. Hold this position for several seconds before extending your leg back out again.

Muscle Strengthening Exercises

Muscle strengthening exercises are designed to strengthen the muscles that surround your knee in an effort to stabilize your knee. Muscle strengthening exercises range from leg extensions to hip rotations. To perform a leg extension, sit down at a leg extension machine with of your feet on the pad of the exercise machine. Select a weight that is appropriate for the current strength of your leg and push on the pad until your legs are fully extended. Return slowly to your starting position and repeat.

Weight Bearing Exercises

You should only perform weight bearing exercises after you have properly strengthened the muscles around your knee and stretched the ligaments in your knee. Weight bearing exercises include walking and bike riding. Depending on the extent of your injury, you may need to begin walking with a crutch under each arm. Progress to using one crutch only as your condition improves. Once your leg is strong enough, attempt short distance walks and lengthen the distance as appropriate.