A torn meniscus is a painful but treatable knee injury that occurs when the knee is turned with force while also bearing significant weight. Often seen in sports and other physical activities, the injury is a tear of the cartilage in the knee rather than the ligaments themselves. Severe meniscus tears could require some form of surgery on the knee and if so will need specialised rehab before exercise can begin. More minor tears however will take some strengthening, stretching and exercise regimens to return the knee to full form.
Exercising a Torn Meniscus
The thing to keep in mind when exercising to heal a torn meniscus is that it's not necessarily the knee itself you want to work but rather the muscles in the entire leg. Strengthening and working the quadriceps, the hamstring and so forth will help increase mobility and flexibility in the knee as the torn cartilage repairs.
Begin the workout with some light exercises and stretches that incorporate the knee somewhat and get it ready for some movement and flexing. Light riding on a stationary bike is recommended as long as the tear isn't so severe that riding causes significant pain. Finish the riding with some slow semi-extensions of the leg. Take care to not completely extend the leg, which could overwork the knee joint and worsen the injury.
For exercises, focus on muscles around the thigh and calf. Leg lifts are an excellent rehabilitation exercise for the knee, as they'll stretch and strengthen the surrounding muscles while still putting minimal impact on the knee itself. Lie on either your stomach or back, and with your leg extended almost completely, lift it straight in the air, holding at the top before lowering it again and repeating. Take care not to completely extend the knee, but go almost that far to get maximum effect from the exercise.
You can also do heel raises to work the calf muscles. Stand with your feet at shoulder width and your hands supporting yourself on a chair or counter in front of you. Gently raise your heels off the floor as if you were standing on your toes, being sure to keep your knees straight. Hold at the top before gently lowering yourself back down.
Finally, if you have access to a pool, you can perform some excellent exercises that will work well for rehabilitating an injured meniscus. Doing aerobic exercise while submerged in water is virtually non-impact on the knees and also provides much greater resistance than traditional running or stretching exercises would. Standing in no less than waist-deep water, slowly run in place with exaggerated movements. Instead of typically short and quick running motions, slow your movements and draw them out. Bring your knee to a 90-degree angle as if you're trying to touch the knee to the chest. Alternatively, you can hold onto the side of the pool and perform short, quick flutter kicks to achieve the same results. This will work the knee joint as well as the muscles around it, but because it's so low-impact, you don't run the risk of meniscus re-injury that you would by running on land.