I Hyperextended My Knee What Do I Do?

Normal and hyperextended knee comparison.
Normal and hyperextended knee comparison.

What does a hyperextended knee feel like?

If you hyperextended back of knee, your knee felt like bending backwards a bit, then you probably felt the pain that comes with hyperextending your knee.

Your knee will also feel instable, as if it could give in any moment. You will feel it's difficult to walk or to stand on the injured leg after hyperextension.

There is always some pain with knee hyperextension. The level can vary between mild and hardly bearable depending on the severity of the injury. The more you damaged the ligaments and tendons in your knee, the more pain you will feel.

You will either feel pinching pain in the front of the your knee, or a mild or sharp pain at the back of your knee.

Knee dislocation can feel very similar.

Some dual hinged braces can effectively prevent hyperextension - the hinges don't bend backwards thus preventing your knee from hyperextension.

How do I know if I hyperextended my knee?

Besides the knee feeling the pain and instability, you will also feel it's hard to bend or straighten your knee. This is both due the the swelling that comes after the injury, and the damage to the ligaments and the meniscus. These damages will all limit how much you can move your knee.

The swelling and bruising are the responses of your body to the injury.

The swelling comes from fluid and white blood cells moving to the damaged area. The bruising comes from the blood in the torn blood vessels at the site of the damage.

To learn more about the symptoms, check this article at Sports-health.

How long does a hyperextended knee take to heal?

If the hyperextension was mild, the heeling time will be between 2 and 4 weeks. Make sure that your rest your knee, manage the swelling, and avoid the movement which triggered the injury. Injuries frequently come together so make sure you take care of yourself and prevent further strain of your knee.

Surgery will push the healing time to 6 months or even more, however your knee will become 100% usable after the surgery. Due to long recovery time and the risks that come with any surgery not all people opt for this solution. Often an injured knee can recover by itself fully too.

With either options, physiotherapy is helpful in the rehabilitation and the strengthening of the knee. This will both reduce your recovery time and ensure that your knee is as good as it was before the injury. The recovery time depends on other factors too, for example your age, your gender, your weight, the details of the injury, the type of surgery (if any) and the aftercare.

How to treat a hyperextended knee?

You can treat your hyperextended knee with the usual combination of resting, icing and taking anti-pain and anti-inflammatory medication.

Avoiding the activity that caused the injury in the first place is very important. Stop any high intensity or high impact movements for at least 4 weeks. Anti-inflammatory drugs are effective against the swelling.

Icing the knee for 15 minutes a few times a day helps too, as it brings down the swelling and dulls the pain. It's a good idea to wrap the ice in a soft tissue to prevent further damage.

Wearing a brace helps too, as the compression reduces the swelling, and a good brace can help avoid another hyperextension injury. There are braces on the market especially against hyperextension, for example this one.

Lying down with your knee resting on pillow above the level of your heart can help too.

Hyperextending your knee can cause a full tendon tear too, which requires a surgery. The most common is ACL tear, but PCL and popliteal tendon tear can happen too. Recovery time after a surgery is usually 6 months.

It's a great idea to check the patellar tendon pain and the pain on the inner side of knee articles too, as the exercises there could help with the overextension too.

Best exercises for a hyperextended knee

Fortunately a few simple exercises can help to fix an overextended knee, just read on!


Straight leg raise.

Straight leg raises

Straight leg raises will strengthen your thigh muscles.

Lie down on your back with your legs held straight. For support, bend your knee on your healthy side and place your foot on the floor. On your injured side slowly raise your leg until your leg is bent to about 45 degrees. Keep your leg straight while raising it. Hold it a bit then let it down slowly. Do three sets of this exercise with 15 repetitions.


Hamstring curls.

Hamstrings curls

Lie on your stomach with your leg straight. Slowly bend your injured leg at the knee, your foot will rise from the ground. Stop if your knee is bent at 90 degrees. Hold it a bit, then let your leg slowly back.

This is a really simple exercise, and you will surely get bored of this fast. You can spice it up by using a mid-strength resistance band, and fixing it to your ankle and a non-movable object.

The resistance band should be fixed to the object near the ground.

When exercising with the resistance band on, make sure you feel your hamstring working against the resistance band.

Go for 3 sets of 15 reps when starting out. If grew stronger you can go for high-strength resistance bands, and lower the repetitions to 8.


Step ups.


Step-ups are great for strengthening your thigh and buttocks muscles, and to improve the range of motion of your knees.

Stand in front of a small step platform.

Place your injured leg on the platform, press down with the leg and raise your body, and step with your other leg on the platform too.

Next step back down, first with your healthy leg, then with your injured leg too.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps of this exercise.


Quarter squats.

Quarter squats

Just like step-ups, quarter squats strengthen your knees, your thigh and buttocks muscles.

Stand straight up, with your legs shoulder wide. Slowly lower your body to a quarter squat while keeping your back straight. (A full squat is when your thighs are level, half squat when they are at 45 degrees, and a quarter squat when they are between 45 degrees and the normal standing position.)

Do not go deep if you just got started with this exercise.

Do 3 sets of 15 reps for this exercise.

Other exercises

Livestrong has a few more exercises for an overextended knee.