MCL Injury Treatment
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The medial collateral ligament, also known as the MCL, of the knee is a strong connective band between the femur and the tibia on the inside of the knee. Its function is to stabilise the knee joint against inward movements (valgus) and also plays a role in stabilising the knee against hyperextension. The injury occurs when the knee has been forced through this controlled range and the ligament is stretched and torn. You can read more about this in our related article: MCL Injury.
Treatment for an MCL injury such as a strain or tear should be guided by a medical professional such as a physical therapist to ensure correct diagnosis and exclude other causes of medial knee pain. A thorough assessment and correct diagnosis will also classify the grade of tear and the correct management will depend on this. Read more about other treatments for MCL injury in our related article: MCL Injury Treatment.
Exercises for stretching and strengthening play an essential role in the rehabilitation of an MCL injury. Here are some of the most common exercises that will be prescribed.
These are just a couple of stretches that are commonly helpful following an MCL injury. However, you should consult your physical therapist to ensure that these are the best exercises for you, with your individual injury and at the stage of recovery that you are at.
These stretches should be held for 45 seconds and can be repeated several times per day in the early stages of injury.
Step forwards with one leg and bend from your hips keeping a straight back. Have your hands on the leg that is stepped forwards to keep your knee straight, and bend further from your hips to feel a stretch at the back of your thigh. Keep you foot flat on the floor throughout.
Stand with your feel off the edge of a step. Hold onto a wall for balance. Lower your heels down off the step while keeping your knees straight, to fee the stretch at the back of your lower leg.
Lie with a foam roller under your thighs, supporting your weight on your hands or forearms. You can either have both thighs on the roller or just one by crossing your legs as shown in the picture. Slowly move the roller on your muscle, stopping or slowing over any specific points of tenderness or tightness. This should feel like a strong pressure but not be extremely painful.
The following are good strengthening exercises for many people with an MCL injury. You should consult your physical therapist to ensure that these are the best for you to do at your specific time of recovery and with the grade of injury that you have.
These exercises can be done for 3 sets of 15 repetitions, either daily or on alternate days if muscle fatigue is felt.
Sit with your knee resting on a foam roller or thick pillow. Push your knee down into the roller or pillow and straighten your knee, lifting your ankle off the floor. Hold this position for 5 seconds, relax, and repeat.
You should feel your quadriceps working.
Lying on your side with a resistance band around your ankles. Keep your bottom leg slightly bent, to help with stability, and your top leg straight. Lift your leg up and backwards into the resistance band.
You should feel your glutes working.
Lying on your side with your ankles together, and knees bent to about 30º. Tip your pelvis forwards and keep it still while you lift your top knee to open you legs.
You should feel you glutes working.
Lying on your back with your heels, hip-width apart and your knees bent to 30º. Tilt your pelvis backwards, to flatten your back against the floor and continue to curl and lift your pelvis off the floor.
You should feel your glutes and hamstring working.
This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack. He offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments for £45.