One of the most effective ways to strengthen your knees, ward off pain and prevent future injury is to develop strong, stable, flexible muscles around your knees and in your core. In this article, we’ll look at 5 effective tips for knee pain with examples from one of our expert rehabilitation specialists.
By integrating targeted knee stretches and strengthening exercises into your daily regimen, you’ll ease nagging pain and improve the strength of those achy knees.
Strength and flexibility are two sides of the same coin. A tight muscle is a weak one, and a fluid muscle is a happy one. The muscles around the knee can get tense if not stretched properly. A tight muscle will constrict the knee joint and make it prone to injury. Stretching after you perform knee strengthening exercises will help diminish muscle soreness and keep your muscles supple and elastic.
Before you embark on a training program of any kind, it’s important to consult with a certified physical therapist. The expert advice of a trained professional can save you time, allow you to work more effectively, and guide you toward the best exercises for your unique situation.
Below, we’ll break down five of the most effective exercises to help you alleviate knee pain and strengthen your knees, so you can get back to enjoying regular activities with less pain, popping, and worry.
Exercise 1: Bridge
Lie on your back with your knees up and your feet flat on the ground about hip-width apart. If needed, place a pillow or cushion behind your head to keep your neck comfortable. Keep your arms by your side. Contract your core, squeeze your buttocks, and push through your heels to lift your hips off the ground. You should be in a straight line from your knees to your shoulders. Slowly lower down under control. Complete 10 repetitions. Perform 2-3 sets as needed.
Exercise 2: Lying Knee Extension
Lie on your back with your knees up and your feet flat on the ground about hip-width apart. If needed, place a pillow or cushion behind your head to keep your neck comfortable. Interlock your fingers and grab behind your left leg. Keep the right (non-active) leg bent (foot flat on the floor) to take the pressure off your lower back, or keep it lying flat on the ground, if comfortable.
As you hold the left leg, contract your quads, and slowly straighten the left leg (lifting your foot and lower leg toward the ceiling). Hold for about 10 seconds. Lower the leg slowly and under control. Complete 10 repetitions and then repeat with the opposite leg. Perform 2-3 sets as needed.
As you get stronger, you can add light ankle weights to increase the resistance. Your kneecaps will be very happy! And your hamstring muscles will get a great stretch in the process, as you strengthen your quadriceps.
Exercise 3: Straight Leg Raise
Lie on your back with your knees up and your feet flat on the ground about hip-width apart. If needed, place a pillow or cushion behind your head to keep your neck comfortable. Bend your opposite leg to take the pressure off your lower back (foot flat on the floor).
Gently pull the toes of the active leg toward your nose, squeeze your quad, and lift the leg so that it is even with your opposite leg. Pause, and then slowly lower back down. Complete 10 repetitions and repeat with the opposite leg. Perform 2-3 sets as needed.
Exercise 4: Standing Quad Stretch
Stand next to a kitchen counter or table with your feet shoulder-width apart. If needed, hold onto the counter or table for balance. Lift your left foot and grab it (around the ankle) with your left hand. Gently pull your left heel toward your buttocks. It doesn’t have to touch your buttocks, as long as you feel a stretch in your quad muscle. Complete10 repetitions and repeat with the other leg. Perform 2-3 sets as needed.
Exercise 5: Squats
Stand next to a kitchen counter or table with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes facing slightly outward. If needed, hold onto the counter or table for balance. Slowly sit down and back like you’re about to sit down in a chair, and then slowly stand back up.
If possible, do your squats in front of a mirror so you can make sure you’re not shifting your weight to a specific side. Repeat 5-10 times based on your tolerance. If needed, start with a partial squat, and then work gradually deeper into it. This quadriceps exercise will strengthen your knee joint and build stamina along the entire leg.
Results of Knee Strengthening Exercises
By strengthening the muscles around your knee, you will alleviate the regular strain placed on the knee joint. With less stress on the knee, you can relieve pain and avoid further injury.
As with all things, just doing it is the key. It’s essential to take time out of your busy schedule to improve your joints and your body. By investing only 15 minutes a day, you’ll realize an excellent payoff for your quality of life down the road.
Take note: there is no such thing as “no pain, no gain.” The concept is obsolete (and will not help you or your knees at all!). You should never experience sharp or shooting pain when performing the exercises above. If you do, modify your position or consult your doctor or a physical therapist.