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6 Exercises to Break Down Scar Tissue in the Knee

The knee, a marvel of nature’s engineering, is more than just a hinge joint. It’s a complex structure that carries our weight and facilitates vital motions, from walking to jumping. Unfortunately, the knee can sometimes become a victim of its own complexity, especially when scar tissue forms following injury or surgery.

Scar tissue can be problematic while part of the body’s natural healing process. Formed of collagen, a fibrous material the body produces to repair damage, this hardened tissue can bind up muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This binding can limit the knee’s flexibility, cause discomfort, and sometimes, even pain.

Understanding Scar Tissue in the Knee: Causes and Symptoms

Scar tissue forms when the body’s soft tissues are damaged. This can occur following a severe injury or post-knee surgery, such as a knee replacement or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) repair. During the healing process, collagen hardens into scar tissue, potentially limiting the movement of muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

The symptoms of excessive scar tissue include a limited range of motion, inflammation, knee pain, and discomfort during walking or other movements. It’s crucial to recognize these symptoms early to prevent further complications and begin appropriate treatment.

Prevention Measures and Risk Factors

To prevent scar tissue buildup, early and active rehabilitation post-injury or post-surgery is key. Consistent physical therapy and adherence to a personalized exercise program can also contribute significantly to preventing excess scar tissue.

Prevention strategies include:

  • Regular gentle movement of the knee joint to prevent stiffness
  • Physical therapy to enhance mobility and strength
  • Consistent application of the prescribed exercise routine

Risk factors for developing excessive scar tissue in the knee include age, genetics, and the severity of the injury or surgery. Additionally, post-operative care and how well you follow the recommended recovery plan can play a significant role in scar tissue development.

A Month-Long Plan of Exercises to Break Down Scar Tissue

To assist in breaking down scar tissue and restoring mobility, here are six exercises to follow over a month. It is always recommended to consult with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine. The provided exercises are divided into two phases – the first two weeks and the last two weeks.

Week 1 and 2:

1. Heel Slides

  • First, lay down on your bed with your knees raised.
  • Make sure your back is comfortable, not totally flat or curved too much.
  • Pretend you’re supporting a 20 lb weight on your belly by tightening your core muscles.
  • Extend one foot out slowly while keeping your belly muscles tight, then bring it back.
  • Most importantly, breathe normally all throughout this process.

2. Knee Bends

  • Find a spot and stand straight, feet about hip-width apart.
  • Slowly bend one knee, lifting your foot slightly off the ground.
  • Hold this position for a moment, then lower your foot back down.
  • Repeat the same with your other knee.
  • Keep your balance and remember to breathe throughout the exercise.

Week 3 and 4:

3. Stationary Bike

  • Begin by setting your exercise bike to a low resistance level and start pedaling at a relaxed pace.
  • Do this for about 5-10 minutes each day.
  • As you get more comfortable, you can slowly increase the resistance and the time you spend on the bike as per your comfort level.
  • Remember, there’s no rush, take it at your own pace.

4. Hamstring Curls

  • Stand straight and hold onto something for balance, like a chair or a wall.
  • Slowly bend one knee, bringing your heel towards your buttocks. Keep the thighs aligned.
  • Hold this position for a second, then gently lower your foot back to the floor.
  • Repeat with the other leg.
  • Keep your movements smooth, and remember to breathe throughout.

5. Straight Leg Raises

  • Lay on your back on a comfortable surface, like a mat or bed.
  • Keep one leg bent at the knee, with your foot flat on the surface. Extend the other leg out straight.
  • Slowly lift the straight leg a few inches off the surface.
  • Hold this position for a moment, then gently lower your leg back down.
  • Switch legs and repeat.
  • Remember to keep your movements slow and controlled, and breathe normally.

6. Wall Slides

  • Start by standing straight with your back touching a wall. Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Gently bend your knees while sliding your back down the wall. Stop when your thighs are level with the floor.
  • Make sure your knees are right above your ankles, and your lower back is touching the wall.
  • Slowly slide back up the wall. Keep your knees and ankles aligned as you straighten your legs.
  • Do this exercise 10-15 times, and try to do it 2-3 times a day.


Breaking down scar tissue is a process that demands consistency and patience. It’s important to adhere to your exercise routine and be patient with your body’s pace of healing. If pain persists or you notice increasing knee instability, it’s essential to contact your healthcare provider.

Prevention is better than cure, and that holds true when it comes to scar tissue in the knee. Staying active, following the recommended rehabilitation exercises, and practicing safe movement techniques can all contribute to reducing the risk of scar tissue buildup. Remember, your knee is counting on you for its freedom!

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