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Proc Inst Mech Eng H. 2012 Sep;226(9):670-80.

Cruciate ligament loading during common knee rehabilitation exercises.

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Department of Physical Therapy, California State University Sacramento, 6000 J Street, Sacramento, CA 95819-6020, USA.


Cruciate ligament injuries are common and may lead to dysfunction if not rehabilitated. Understanding how to progress anterior cruciate ligament and posterior cruciate ligament loading, early after injury or reconstruction, helps clinicians prescribe rehabilitation exercises in a safe manner to enhance recovery. Commonly prescribed therapeutic exercises include both weight-bearing exercise and non-weight-bearing exercise. This review was written to summarize and provide an update on the available literature on cruciate ligament loading during commonly used therapeutic exercises. In general, weight-bearing exercise produces smaller loads on the anterior cruciate ligament and posterior cruciate ligament compared with non-weight-bearing exercise. The anterior cruciate ligament is loaded less at higher knee angles (i.e. 50-100 degrees). Squatting and lunging with a more forward trunk tilt and moving the resistance pad proximally on the leg during the seated knee extension unloads the anterior cruciate ligament. The posterior cruciate ligament is less loaded at lower knee angles (i.e. 0-50 degrees), and may be progressed from level ground walking to a one-leg squat, lunges, wall squat, leg press, and the two-leg squat (from smallest to greatest). Exercise type and technique variation affect cruciate ligament loading, such that the clinician may prescribe therapeutic exercises to progress ligament loading safely, while ensuring optimal recovery of the musculoskeletal system.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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