Are sore, weak knees keeping you from being as active as you’d like? Are you afraid to put any stress or pressure on your knees for fear of falling or seriously injuring your knee? It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to build stronger knees and ward off future injuries is not to baby your knee, but to use it! It’s important to strengthen the muscles supporting your knee joints to keep them fluid and flexible so you can keep moving with confidence.
Start strengthening your knees by routinely performing these 6 exercises (with your doctor’s OK, of course). Your knees will thank you!
6 Exercises to Strengthen Your Knees:
1. Seated Knee Extension: Sit in a sturdy, high chair (like a barstool), or on a table, and let your legs hang down freely. Place a thin cushion beneath your knee to elevate it slightly higher than your hip. Slowly raise your leg with your foot flexed until it is fully extended. Hold this position for 3 to 5 seconds and then slowly lower your leg. Repeat 10 times and switch to the other leg. Work up to easily performing 3 sets. To make it more challenging, add some light ankle weights to boost the resistance. This exercise strengthens your quads while giving your hamstring muscles a good stretch.
2. Standing Knee Flexion: While standing in an upright position, use the back of a chair or countertop to support yourself while slowly bringing the heel of one leg towards your butt. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds and then slowly lower your leg keeping your foot flexed during the movement. Repeat 10 times and then switch to the other leg. Perform 3 sets. As you get stronger, adding ankle weights will increase the resistance. This exercise strengthens your hamstring muscles while providing a good stretch to your quads.
3. Calf Raises: Stand in an upright position using the back of a chair for support and slowly raise your heels as high as possible, and then slowly lower them back to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times, rest, and do 2 more sets. Once you have this easily mastered, perform with only one foot at a time to make it more challenging. This exercise strengthens the calf muscles which assists the hamstrings in providing support and stability to your knee.
4. Step-Ups: Stand in an upright position on a small step bench or the bottom step of a staircase. Then, maintaining good posture and a level pelvis, slowly lower one foot behind you and touch your toe to the floor. Slowly rise back up and repeat 10-15 times. Switch legs and perform 2-3 reps. To make it more challenging, touch your heel to the floor or use a higher step. This exercise strengthens your quads and your core.
5. Half Squats: Stand with your arms out in front of you and your knees shoulder-length apart. Keeping your chest lifted, back straight, and knees over your ankles, slowly lower your body by bending your knees as if you are about to sit down. Stop at the halfway point between the “seat” and an upright position. Hold for 5 to 7 seconds and then slowly stand up. Repeat 10 times and work up to 3 reps. This exercise strengthens the glutes, quads, and hamstrings, which all play an important part in supporting your knee.
6. Knee-Friendly Aerobic Exercises: Swimming, walking, cycling, and yoga are all great activities that help strengthen your knee while also providing a great cardio workout. Aim to include at least 3 knee-friendly cardio sessions a week in addition to the above knee-strengthening exercises.
Performing routine exercises that help strengthen your knees is the best way to alleviate some knee pain as well as prevent further knee injury. Just remember to stretch afterward to keep your muscles long and fluid. It’s expected that you’ll have some muscle soreness in the days following these exercises, but if you experience any immediate sharp or shooting pain, call your doctor right away.
For more information on knee exercises or pain management options, speak to an orthopedic specialist at Coastal Orthopedics today. It’s our mission to help patients manage their pain so they can live life to the fullest. Call us today at 941-792-1404 or request an appointment online.