Keeping an active lifestyle is important, but it can be difficult when you are faced with a knee injury. Sometimes, the best solution is to do more exercise. The key is to focus on knee strengthening exercises, which will help to build up the muscles around the knee joint and put less stress on the knees.
Focusing on exercises to strengthen knees is important to help prevent further injury. It is vital that you pay attention to form and technique, to avoid further pain in your knee or an injury from taking place. This is true not only for the following exercises, but also when doing stretching or any aerobic activity.
Strengthening Knees by Strengthening Muscles
The following knee strengthening exercises focus on a particular set of muscles that support the knee. If you want to try other exercises, you should look out for ones that put little strain on your knee, while helping you to build up the following muscles:
Quadriceps: The quadriceps is a group of muscles that form the bulk on the front of your thighs. The quadriceps muscles are made up of four distinct muscles. They are vital for the well being of your knee joint and for stability.
Hamstrings: The hamstrings are a group of three posterior thigh muscles. They are responsible for flexing your knees and extending the hip. These muscles play a crucial role in activities such as jumping, walking and running. With strong hamstrings, you can help to prevent leg injuries and maintain good posture.
Lower back muscles: You lower back muscles, or spinal erectors, for part of the posterior chain. This is a term used for the muscles making up the region from behind the knee to the middle back, the lower back, glutes and hamstrings.
These are the most important group of muscles in the body. Along with the core, they bind together your upper and lower body during all athletic movements, such as jumping and running. This will help to ease some of the burden on your knees, helping to prevent injury.
Gluteal muscles: Having weak glutes can help contribute to knee pain when doing basic movements such as getting up from a chair, walking down stairs or walking. The gluteus medius controls the thigh, and along with the glute max, will help to keep your knee from falling inwards during exercise.
Don’t Forget To Warm Up
It’s important to warm up before any type of exercise and that includes exercises to strengthen the knees. A great way to do this is to go for a brisk walk beforehand or ride a stationary bike for 5 minutes.
If you want to do the exercises at home, you can do 15-20 calf raises, followed by 15-20 wall push-ups. Warming up your knees will help you to lower your risk of injury, while getting more out of your workout.
Five Simple Knee Strengthening Exercises
These five simple exercises to strengthen knees can be done straight from the comfort of your own home. They are relatively easy to do, so you should not have any issues with getting the technique right. Do pay attention to each step to ensure you are following the moves correctly. This will help to prevent further injury and keep your knees healthy.
Straight Leg Raises
This exercise is relatively easy and focuses on strengthening your quadriceps, while also targeting your hip flexors.
• Lie on your back on the floor
• Bend on knee, placing your foot flat on the floor
• Raise your other leg to the height of your opposite knee while keeping your leg straight, then lower
• Repeat this move 10-15 times, working up to 2 sets on each side
This knee strengthening exercise is designed to build strength in your calf, while improving stability in your ankle. Ankle stability is important for proper knee alignment. It will also help with balance and coordination.
• Use a wall or chair for balance
• Stand with your feet hip-width apart
• Keep toes facing straight ahead
• Lift your heels off the floor, slowly, so you rise to your toes
• Hold this position, then lower yourself slowly
• Repeat this move 8 to 12 times
This move is known as a “closed chain” exercise that helps you to build strength while keeping your feet on the floor. It is an easy exercise to strengthen the knees that you can do from pretty much anywhere.
• Stand with your back against the wall
• Stand with your feet shoulder width apart
• Bend you knees slowly
• Be sure to keep your pelvis and back against the wall
• Hold this position for 5-10 seconds
• Avoid bending too deeply to evade injury
• If you feel discomfort of pressure in your knees, adjust your position
• Repeat this exercise, holding the position for longer each time
Step ups target your glutes and hamstrings, while also working your quadriceps. You can either use an aerobic step bench, platform or simply the bottom step of your staircase.
• Step up onto the step with your right foot
• Tap your left foot on the top of the step, then lower
• Your knee should be directly over your ankle as you step up
• Repeat 10-15 times
• Repeat the moves with your left foot
Hip abduction can be used to increase the flexibility and strength of your hip abductors. This helps to improve your ability to transfer power between your lower and upper body, helping you to prevent injury.
• Lie down on your side, with your legs stacked
• Bend your bottom leg for support
• Straighten your top leg, but avoid locking your knee
• Raise your leg to 45 degrees
• Hold for 5 seconds
• Lower and briefly relax
• Repeat 10-15 times
• Switch sides and repeat the moves on the other side
Exercises to Avoid
While there are several exercises to strengthen the knees, there are some you might want to avoid if you are relatively inexperienced. The reason for this is that these exercises are more likely to be done improperly, leaving you more prone to injury.
The above knee strengthening exercises should deliver the same results, but are much safer for beginners to attempt. When it comes to doing exercise while you are suffering from knee problems, it’s all about getting the technique right. To reduce chances of injury, we recommend avoiding the following exercises:
• Deep squats
• Full-arc knee extensions
• Hurdler’s stretches
Remember, exercise should never cause or increase your pain. While sore muscles are normal after a hard workout, you should not expect to feel any sudden, sharp or shooting pains in your muscles or your joints.