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Knee Exercises

MCL Injury Exercises

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Posted 1 year ago


Last updated: 20/11/2023


by James McCormack

James McCormack
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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. 

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.

Stretches for MCL Injury

These stretches should be held for 45 seconds and can be repeated several times daily in the early stages of injury.

Hamstring Stretch

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.

Photo of man doing a hamstring stretch

Photo of man stretching calf off a step

Calf Stretch

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.

Quadriceps Foam Rolling

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.

  • Roll slowly for 2-5minutes and repeat 1-2 times per day

Photo of James McCormack foam rolling quadriceps

Knee Strengthening Exercises for MCL Injury

These exercises can be done for 3 sets of 15 repetitions, either daily or on alternate days if muscle fatigue is felt.

Photo of James McCormack doing inner range quadriceps exercise

Inner Range Quads

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.

Hip Abduction

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.

Photo of man doing a hip abduction exercise

Photo of man doing clam exercise


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.

Long Lever Bridge

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.

Pictuer of James McCormack doing a Long Lever Bridge exercise

Physiotherapy with James McCormack

This article is written by James McCormack, a Lower Limb Specialist who is an expert in treating Knee Ligament Injuries.

This is not medical advice. We recommend a consultation with a medical professional such as James McCormack if you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed in this article. James offers Online Physiotherapy Appointments weekly and face-to-face appointments in his London clinic.

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