Written by: Samantha Higgins
The knee is not only the largest joint in your body but also one of the most used joints. You need your joint to walk, climb, jump, and much more. As you go on your day to day activities, your knee is prone to injuries. In case of an injury, a doctor will recommend physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knees. However, there are a few exercises you can start doing now to help prevent knee injuries in the future.
Why Strengthen Your Knees?
Knee injuries are common among Athletes. One article analyzes the most common knee pain, the patellofemoral syndrome, also called runner’s knee is usually seen in athletes, but it can also affect those with arthritis.
Knee strengthening exercises do not necessarily train your knees. Instead, they strengthen the muscles that surround your knees to provide enough support to strengthen the knee joint. The support alleviates the pressure and strain you may experience on the joint and, therefore, help you become more active. If you feel like you have been suffering from knee pain and want to fix it consider consulting your doctor or a physical therapy specialist who can give you exercises that are catered specifically to your needs. You can find a good physical therapist by searching for one in your area. For example, if you live in Oregon you might search for physical therapy in Portland Oregon.
Here are a few exercises you can do to get your started. If you experience pain while doing any of the exercises below, discontinue the exercises and talk to your physical therapy specialist or your doctor.
Before starting any of the exercises below, engage in gentle exercises such as walking, cycling, or using an elliptical machine. This way, there will be minimal stress on your knees.
1. Leg Lifts
While lying flat on your back on a yoga mat, lift your right leg and then fold it slightly so that your foot is closer to your body. While at it, you will be exercising your quadriceps (which are the muscles on the front of the thigh) and your abdominal muscles (which are the muscles on your stomach).
While raising your legs, pull your abdominal muscles downwards so that your back is flat on the ground to give you enough support during the exercise. Ensure that there is no space between the floor and your lower back. If there is a space, pull your stomach muscles downwards.
Hold each leg up for five seconds and then slowly lower it to the floor. Your back should never arch during the exercise. If you have conditions such as osteoporosis or back compression, avoid this exercise.
2. Hamstring Curls while Standing
This is a simple exercise that strengthens the hamstrings (muscles at the back of thighs) and the gluteal (buttock muscles). All you have to do is stand straight with your knees between 1 and 2 inches apart. Bend your right knee behind your body until the lower leg is in a 90-degree angle with the upper leg. While at it, slightly bend the left leg so ensure you do not lock it. Hold your leg up for about five seconds. Repeat the rep for at least two times and then switch legs.
While doing this exercise, you can place your hands akimbo or support on a bench, whichever works for you.
3. Step Exercises
This exercise requires a sturdy stool or an exercise platform shorter than or equal to six inches. Step on the platform with your right foot and let the left foot float. Bend your right knee so that the left foot touches the ground and then raise the right knee so the left leg is floating again. While at it, keep all your body weight rested on the right leg. Repeat this for three to four sets and then switch legs.
You can place your hands akimbo, but if you have a problem with balance, hold onto something for support. Always ensure that the knee of the leg that steps on the platform is always slightly bent.
4. Wall Squats
These also exercise your gluteal and quadriceps. To do this exercise, stand with your back straight against the wall with both legs out, at least 24 inches away from the wall. Ensure that your hips, back, shoulders, and head are straight against the wall.
Slide your back down the wall until you are almost in a sitting position. Hold that position for about five seconds and then raise your back up. Repeat this for at least five times. While at it, ensure not to slide too low – just above the normal sitting position. Again, do not slide up and down fast as this exercise requires slow movements.
5. Chair Dips
Chair dips strengthen your hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteal, and hip flexors. Here, you need a strong and tall chair. Support yourself using your hands (with the chair behind you) and carefully bend your knees almost to a squat position. Extend your right leg forward slowly while keeping your body weight on the left leg. Fold the right leg slowly and then stretch it out again. Hold that position for five seconds while keeping the weight on the left leg. Then switch the legs and repeat on the other side.
In general, remember to warm up and cool down effectively before doing any exercises to help prevent injuries. Also make sure that you are doing any exercises with the correct form to prevent any muscle, tendon, or ligament strains. If you take the steps now to prevent yourself from getting injured you will be a lot happier in the long run.