Knee pains and other symptoms that come with knee injuries and different knee conditions aren’t pleasant and if you let the conditions of your knees grow worse you might even need surgery or other drastic and unpleasant treatments. But there is a way how you can strengthen you knees, keep them flexible and prevent them from developing some type of injury and that is by doing knee exercises. So let me tell you about few of the most common knee exercises and why it is important to do them.
Expert tip: Although doing exercises are necessary and you probably will feel soreness after doing them (which is why at first you need to start with few reps of each exercise or easier exercises and then slowly build strength up to harder level) if you experience pain while doing any exercise you shouldn’t keep doing the exercise but rather you should stop and visit your doctor because there might be something seriously wrong with your knees and in this case exercise can only worsen your condition.
Before doing any activities you should warm up your body first. Here you don’t have to do any vigorous activities because even 2 to 5 minutes of walking, slow jogging or riding a bike will do the trick. The warmup will let you do the exercises better because your muscles will be warm and ready for some exercise.
Once you have warmed up you can move to stretching which will help you loosen up and warm up the muscles even further as well as will build strength and flexibility to the muscles around your knees.
These stretches will help you stretch out your quadriceps or the muscles on the front part of your thigh. You do this stretch by standing up straight and bending your leg at the knee so that you are guiding you heel towards your buttock. Hold your leg in place by grabbing your ankle with your hand and then bring it slightly closer to your body until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Stay in this position for at least 30 seconds afterward repeating the same action with your other leg 2 to 3 times. Also you can hold on to a chair with one hand if you feel like you need help with balancing.
Supine hamstring stretch
This exercise will let you stretch out your hamstrings or the muscles on the back portion of your thigh and on the back of your knee. Start this exercise by lying down on the floor with your legs bent at a 45 degree angle. First lift one of your legs straight up so that your foot is parallel to the ceiling and put your hands on the back of your thigh right below the knee. Now slowly pull your leg towards your head until you feel the muscles in the back of your leg stretch. Use towel instead of your hands if you cannot reach your leg and hold the position for at least 30 seconds. Then bring the leg down to previous position and do the same action with the other leg. Repeat 2 to 3 times with both legs.
Heel cord stretch
With this exercise you will stretch your calf and heal so that those muscles too can assist the knee in supporting your weight. You perform this exercise by standing about meter from a wall and facing it. Step towards the wall with one leg and slightly bend it at the knee. Leave the other leg where it is but make sure that the whole foot starting with the toes to the heel is flat against the ground and your toes are facing the wall. Shift you weight towards the wall until you feel a stretch in the back of the legs. Hold this position for about 30 seconds and then relax your stance. Repeat this exercise is 2 sets each time doing 4 stretches.
Now that your muscles are stretched we can move on to some of the best exercises that will help you strengthen your knees and all of the muscles around them so that you can be active and perform any action without pain or discomfort.
One of the exercises that will strengthen your knees as well as the muscles in the upper part of your legs are these half squats. They are performed similarly to regular squats only you don’t squat as low to preserve your knees. So what you need to do is to stand up straight with your feet shoulder width apart. Slowly lower your hips about 10 inches towards the ground like you were about to sit down. Keep your chest elevated and your feet firmly to the ground, then shift your weight so that it is supported by your heels and hold the position for about 5 seconds. Slowly bring your body back to the previous position by pushing your weight through your heels. Do these half squats 10 times and repeat the set two more times.
Another great strengthening exercise is the leg extension that can be done siting or lying down because either way this exercise will be strengthening not only your knees but also the front part of you thigh. I will tell you about the sitting version of this exercise. Sit on a chair so that your back is straight and your feet are firmly planted on the ground. Then tighten the thigh muscles of one of your legs and slowly raise that leg so that it is straight in front of you and your foot is perpendicular to the floor but your thigh doesn’t come up from the chair. Just make sure you don’t swing your leg up using the forceful momentum but rather you lift it using your muscles. Hold this position for about 5 seconds and then brig your foot back to its original position at the same time relaxing the thigh muscles. Repeat this exercise in sets of 10 with each leg and do each set 3 times.
Then there is the classic hamstring curl that will definitely strengthen your hamstrings or the backs of your thighs as well as will help your knees. To make it easier to do this exercise I would recommend you to use a chair for stability. Stand behind the chair and hold on to the back of it, then slowly rise one of your legs so that your heel is going towards the ceiling but keep you knees close together. You should rise the leg as far as possible without experiencing pain. Hold this position for about 5 seconds and then bring your leg back down by relaxing the muscles. Do about 10 repetitions with each leg (or with the leg that has an affected knee) and do 3 of these 10 rep sets to get the full benefits of this exercise.
Although for this exercise you will need some kind of step for example a small bench or stairs it still is easy enough to find and this exercise is great for working on the range of motion of your knees as well as just strengthening them so it is easier for you to perform everyday activities. To do this exercise place the step in front of you or stand on the lower step of staircase and step one of your feet firmly on to the platform. Then lift your other foot off the floor and touch the platform with the toes of that foot letting the foot loosely hang off of the platform. Hold this position for about 5 seconds and then lower the foot that just touched the platform back on to the ground. Repeat this action 10 times with each foot and about 3 sets of these 20 repetitions.
And lastly also calf raises are a great way to strengthen your knees even if it doesn’t seem like it because with this exercise you work your calf that help the knees in supporting your weight. Stand behind a chair or in front of a wall that will help you balance so that all of your weight is evenly distributed over both of your legs. Hold on to the chair or wall and lift one of your feet off the floor so that all of your weight is shifted to the other leg (if one of your knees is worse than other then lift off the floor the leg that is unaffected to help you work the knee that is bad). Then slowly raise the heel of the leg that is still on the floor as high as you can without pain and lower the heel back to the ground. Do this 10 times, then switch legs to strengthen the other leg to, and afterward do the set of 10 exercises for each leg one more time.
And after you have done these strengthening exercises it is time to cool down your muscles and stretch so that you are less sore the next day. You can again do the same stretches you did when you were warming up as they will help your muscles to cool down but there are a couple of more exercises that are good for cool-down too.
After a good workout many times there is nothing more you want than to lie down so this stretch will let you do that while at the same time will help you stretch out your hip and thigh. So to do this exercise lie down on the floor on your back, your legs straight. Then bend one of your legs at the knee forming an 45 degree angle and cross that over the other leg lying your foot flat against the ground on the other side of the leg that you kept straight. Then put the opposite hand of the leg that you just crossed over on the bent knee and slowly pull the knee towards the opposite solder. Hold this position for a few seconds to feel how your outer hip is stretching and then release your grip and place your leg back on the ground. Repeat the same with your other had and so this exercise 20 times with each leg.
Regular hamstring stretch
And you can finish off your workout with a simple hamstring stretch which will let you stretch out your legs muscles fully. Do this stretch by sitting on the floor with one leg straight in front of you but the other bent at the knee to the side. Then slowly lower your chest towards your stretched out knee with your back straight until you feel the stretch but stop if you start to feel any pain. Usually people perform this exercise by reaching forward with their hands and trying to reach their toes but it is not recommended as the fact that you are trying to reach your toes can take away from the purpose of this exercise – to stretch out mainly the backs of your thighs.