Passive Knee Extension
This exercise is intended to work on stretching the hamstring muscles on the posterior (back) aspect of the leg being worked as well as increasing passive Range of Motion (ROM) for knee extention. It will focus specifically on developing hamstring (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus and Biceps Femoris) flexibility and achieving full knee extension ROM.
Why do this Exercise?
To increase flexibility within the hamstrings and increase passive ROM for knee extension.
Table and a Folded Towel.
Prone (lying on your stomach) on a hard surfaced table. Position yourself so that your mid-thigh is on the edge of the table (just above your knee). You want your lower leg and knee hanging off the edge of the table. Place the folded towel under your affected leg so it lies between your thigh and the table. Position your unaffected leg/ankle underneath that of your affected leg to give it support in the most comfortable position for you, typically bent around 45°. Your hips should remain flat against the table at all times throughout the exercise. As you perform the exercise concentrate on keeping your affected leg as relaxed as possible.
Concentrate on relaxing the muscles of your affected leg. Use your unaffected leg to lower your affected leg as far as possible. This motion should be performed in a slow, smooth and controlled motion. Remove your unaffected leg and allow your affected leg to hang off the edge of the table. You should feel muscle tension within your hamstring muscles. Allow your leg to hang for 15-30 seconds. Then, place your unaffected leg back underneath and use it to raise your affected leg back up to a comfortable position. Hold the rest position for 10-15 seconds and then repeat the stretch. Repeat this exercise 10 times. As ROM and comfort level increase, you can increase from 1 set of 10 reps up to 3 sets of 10 reps. This exercise should be repeated 1-2 times per day.
This exercise should only be performed within a pain free range of motion. You should feel tension within your muscles but not sharp pain within your knee joint. Do not continue this exercise if there is pain, swelling or a significant increase in skin temperature (skin becomes hot/warm to the touch). The recommended repetitions are here to serve as guideline. Keep in mind that each person is different and you must modify your activity according to the feedback your body provides. Do not perform this exercise on a soft surface (i.e. bed) because it will not achieve the desired results. Do not use quick jerky movements with this exercise; it is intended to be performed in a slow and controlled motion. If you find that the edge of the table is limiting the amount of flexion you can achieve you may move your knee further off the edge of the table.