The knee is the most complex joint in the body and the most likely joint to become injured and painful. Here are some easy exercises to relieve knee pain. Building strength and flexibility in the knee are crucial for leg movements because the knee provides stability and support for the entire body. Knee pain affects men, women, children and occurs in all races and ethnic backgrounds
One of the main causes of knee pain is a direct blow or a quick movement that puts stress on the knee. However, the most common cause is osteoarthritis which can develop through overuse, aging, an old injury, heredity, obesity and many more reasons.
There are many ways to treat knee pain but one of the most successful is through easy exercise. Here I will focus on knee exercises that are commonly used in physical therapy to strengthen the muscles around the knee therefore providing support and protection to the knee joint. The instructions for the repetition (reps) of exercises given below are for a basic healthy person. Adjust the reps as needed.
- Quadriceps Set
- Sit on the floor or a bed with your legs straight out in front of you
- Squeeze the knee cap and you should feel the muscles on the top of the thigh engage and pull the knee cap towards the thigh
- Hold the squeeze for 5 breaths then release.
- Repeat 8-10 times building up to 15 reps.
- Straight Leg Raise
- Sitting on the floor or a bed with your legs straight out in front of you, prop yourself up with your arms
- Bend your left knee keeping your foot on the floor or bed
- Tighten your thigh muscle on right leg and keep toes pointed up
- Slowly lift your right foot a few inches using the thigh muscles
- Hold for 5 seconds; 10 reps
- Seated Knee Lift
- Sitting straight in a chair take your left foot back keeping toes on the floor
- Lift the right foot off the floor keeping your knee bent
- Hold bent knee up for 10 seconds
- Lower knee and repeat 10 times on each leg
- Sit to Stand
- Place pillows on a chair and sit on top of them with a straight back and feet flat on the floor
- Using your leg muscles stand up gradually and smoothly
- Stand all the way up then slowly sit back down into the chair
- Do not let your knees move in front of your toes. This movement is similar to a squat.
- Stand in front of a low step such as stairs
- Step up with the left foot and then bring the right foot up so both feet are flat beside each other
- Reverse your motion and step down with the right leg first and the left leg following back to your starting position
- Repeat 10 times, work up to 20. This movement is similar to a lunge.
Some low-impact aerobic activities help to build strength and flexibility relieving knee pain:
- Recumbent bike will strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee and protect the joint. It will also keep your joint in motion providing flexibility.
- Walking is good exercise for the knees. Important things are: stick to a relatively flat, smooth surface; maintain a steady speed and rhythm; and invest in a good pair of walking shoes.
- Swimming is a great exercise for the knees as there is absolutely no impact. There are exercises you can do in the pool such as: leg lifts, heel raises and squats. For an aerobic workout you can do deep water walking, bicycling, or swimming laps.
- There are several weight machines that can be used to strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, claves, and butt which are all essential to the stability of the knee. These are: Leg Extension, Leg Curl, and Leg Press. Be sure to get a qualified professional show you how to use the machines.
Other options for relief is using home exercise equipment such as: fitness balls, ankle weights, and resistance bands. You may want to try a Pilates or Yoga class. The standing poses are especially good for increasing knee stability and the many floor exercises are very strengthening.
Check out the book: “Powersculpt: The Women’s Body Sculpting & Weight Training Workout Using the Exercise Ball” by Paul Frediani and Peter Field. I love this book and often use it for myself or in developing fitness programs for others. Also take a look at my Fitness Ball recommendation. This is the ball I have and it has been well used for many years and remains in great shape.
Remember always check with a doctor before starting an exercise program. Be healthy, be happy!