VIDEO: 3 Exercises to Control Knee Hyperextension

October 4, 2023

Marika Molnar, founder and president of Westside Dance Physical Therapy in New York City, recommends these useful exercises to control knee hyperextension. Exercises demonstrated by Manhattan Youth Ballet student Esmé Quirk.

Videography by Meghan Keeney

1. Muscle memory

This is a simple way to slowly develop muscle memory and leg strength.

Photo by Meghan Keeney.
  • Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you so that you can see your kneecaps move.
  • Flex your right ankle without allowing the kneecap to move and without lifting the heel off the floor. Use your lower leg muscles (tibialis anterior) rather than hyperextending the knee using the quadriceps.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other leg.
  • Do 6–8 reps on each side.

2. Ankle flexion

Controlling your ankle flexion will help you safely perform a demi-plié or land from a jump.

  • Sit on a chair with your feet placed 4­–5 inches in front of your knees.
  • Flex one ankle 5–6 times and then the other, using only your ankle joint instead of your knee.  Make sure the foot is flexed up in a neutral position, without sickling or winging it.
  • Move your feet an inch toward you and repeat, gradually bringing your feet closer until they are below your knees.

3. Hamstring and core strength

Strengthening and stabilizing your core is important for movements to the back, like arabesque, and helps to maintain healthy alignment of the hips, knees, and ankles.

  • Standing with your feet parallel, bend your left knee 90 degrees behind you. Keep your thighs parallel and use your deep abdominal muscles to avoid tipping your pelvis forward. Do not allow your weight-bearing knee to hyperextend.
  • Stay for 10 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
  • Perform 5–6 reps.