If you play sports such as basketball, soccer and football, it is not uncommon to suffer meniscus injuries that will force you to the sidelines. The meniscus consists of two pieces of cartilage in each knee that work to provide a natural shock absorber between your femur and tibia. Minor meniscus tears can heal on their own in a matter of weeks, but more serious injuries require surgery. You can't specifically strengthen your meniscus, as it's a piece of cartilage, but rehab activities commonly include jump rope and other exercises that strengthen the muscles around your knees.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold one end of the jump rope in each hand. Allow the rope to sit on the floor at your heels.
Spin the jump rope upward, over your head and toward your feet, and make a small jump to allow the rope to pass under your feet. Rotate your shoulders to spin the rope over your head and back down toward your feet. Continue jumping each time the rope approaches your feet and establish a slow, steady rhythm.
Speed up your rhythm and try variations such as alternating feet as you jump. Focus on taking small steps; your feet don't need to come more than an inch off the ground. The smaller steps you take, the less impact this exercise will have on your knee joints, which is especially important when rehabbing an meniscus injury. Remember to keep your knees slightly bent as you jump.
Jump rope for several minutes and take breaks when necessary. Gauge how your meniscus feels by gently bending your leg. If you feel pain in the meniscus, stop jumping rope immediately.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Meniscal Tears
- PhysioRoom.com: Torn Cartilage Knee Injury in Depth
- Mill Valley Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation: Living Normally With Your Knee After an Injury
- ExRx.net: Jump Rope: Basic Hop
- HealthLinkBC: Meniscus Tear: Rehabilitation Exercises
- Indian Health Service: Treatment: Rehabilitation of Knee Ligament and Meniscus Injuries
- If possible, jump rope on a soft surface, such as a rubber or foam mat. Avoid overly hard surfaces, such as asphalt, and soft surfaces, such as carpet or grass, which will interfere with the path of the rope.
- Avoid attempting to jump rope unless your doctor has specifically indicated that your body is ready for the exercise. While jumping rope is a common rehabilitation exercise after meniscus surgery, physicians recommend it in the very late stages of recovery. Attempting a vigorous exercise too quickly after surgery can harm your meniscus.
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.