Strengthening Exercises for CMP

Despite not being the most common condition, chondromalacia patellae (CMP) affects many people. Also known as runner's knee, it's caused by the softening of the cartilage behind your kneecap. We'll look over strengthening exercises for CMP in the article below.
Strengthening Exercises for CMP

Last update: 08 June, 2019

CMP is a condition where your cartilage in the knee is degenerating, leading to great pain and discomfort. In this article, we’ll tell you about strengthening exercises for CMP.

Strengthening exercises for CMP: what is CMP?

CMP is when the cartilage behind your kneecap is degenerating. It leads to a lot of pain and discomfort and is common in young adults, notably athletes. Those who are chiefly affected are those who play tennis, basketball, volleyball, cycling, karate, rowing, ballet, track and field, rugby, and skiing.

It can appear after a knee injury or after repeated friction between your femur joint and kneecaps while you move.

Of course, there are different factors that can make it more likely you’ll develop CMP. For example, being overweight, long-term synovitis, dislocations, and foot pronation. Other factors include injuries, genetics, a high-riding kneecap, a misaligned knee extensor, or congenital knee anomalies.

The condition develops with an overload or excessive mechanical load along with the irritation of the knee’s nerve endings. This, in turn, leads to inflammation that involves the synovial membrane and, if not treated in time, can become chronic.

Strengthening exercises for CMP

A physiotherapist should diagnose and then indicate the proper treatment for this condition according to your degree of CMP. There can be edema and softening of the cartilage or even an impact on the subchondral bone.

The objective of the exercises is, firstly, to reduce the pain by reducing the inflammation in the area. Then, the goal is to strengthen not only the knee but also the quadriceps.

1. Swimming

Swimming is the best exercise to treat CMP since movements in water are gentle and are done with less effort. There are two styles that are advisable here, the crawl and backstroke. When possible, try to swim with an object between your knees (it can be a foam object that kids use to learn to swim).

Want to know more?: Strength Training for Swimming

Woman swimming laps in pool

2. Isometric lifts for strengthening exercises

These exercises strengthen the knees and legs and are great for patients with CMP. Firstly, lie with your back on a mat, with your arms to your sides, and legs stretched out. Lift your injured leg without bending it and with your foot pointed toward the ceiling. Then hold this position and lower your leg back down.

The second exercise is similar to the previous one, but what changes is the foot’s positioning. In this case, it should be pointing toward your face.

Strengthening exercises for CMP

3. Resistance exercises

You can do them sitting down on the edge of a bed or chair. The idea is that, from your knees down, your legs are “hanging” in the air. To that end, place the heel of your healthy leg over the ankle of the injured one to generate weight. Then, hold that position for 30 seconds and rest.

Another option is the other way around, In other words, place your healthy leg below your injured one. With your healthy leg, raise your injured one as high as you can and hold it for 30 seconds.

Man's legs hanging off edge
Image: Pinterest Lacalle Sport

4. Exercises with machines

It’s important that a trainer or physiotherapist supervises you while you use exercise machines. The goal is for you to strengthen your knees without using too much weight.

You can use the quadriceps machine starting with your knee extended as much as possible (not below as others would do). Then, hold it for 15 seconds, rest for 10, and start over. Try to do 3 sets of 15 repetitions.

You can also use the hamstring machine, which lets you bend your knee (from behind) at the lowest weight setting. Do 3 sets of 12 repetitions each.

Read more: The Best Hamstring Exercises for Beginners

Strengthening exercises for CMP

If you have CMP, we recommend you use a neoprene knee support with a hole in the center to let your knee rest. Make sure to use it while you’re resting and while you’re using these strengthening exercises for CMP. It’s useful to provide support since it keeps the kneecap in place while you train.

Finally, look to do some flexibility exercises in the morning and at night before going to bed. Also, make sure you do some after your gym sessions. Stretch your lower body well and go easy on your injured knee. In only five minutes, your legs will be more rested and less sore at the end of the day.

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All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Ramirez, S., & Karen, T. (2014). Condromalacia rotuliana. Revista Médica de Costa Rica y Centroamérica.

The contents of this publication are written for informational purposes. At no time do they facilitate or replace the diagnoses, treatments, or recommendations of a professional. Consult your trusted specialist if you have any doubts and seek their approval before beginning any procedure.