5 Knee Strengthening Exercises
These knee strengthening exercises will help you reduce your knee pain by building musculature to assist in supporting the complex joint.
Knees are complex. With so many different parts, muscles, and ligaments involved with the joint, you're bound to have problems eventually. One great way to help prevent future problems with the knee and reduce knee pain you might be having now is with some good old fashioned exercise. Strengthening all those muscles surrounding the knee will give it great natural support so that you won't need any of Shop-Orthopedic's knee braces. (Though if you wanted to buy a kneehab from us, or a brace to help strengthen your knee, we think that's a solid and effective way to go!)
This article is all about exercises to help strengthen those muscles surrounding the knee. With time, these sort of exercises should make your knee stronger. This is great for you because it could mean less knee problems in the future and maybe even less pain. It's important to remember that nothing we're saying here is guaranteed, and we are definitely not a substitute for your doctor. If you have any kind of serious knee pain, go see a physician first. They will be your best bet for a good rehabilitation regimen or any kind of bracing options that might help.
These exercises were chosen for their simplicity. You won't need any weights or special equipment that you won't find around the house. That being said, they can still be dangerous if you aren't doing them correctly. Please take caution when performing any exercise, and most certainly consult with a physician before embarking on your own rehabilitation schedule. Shop-Orthopedics is not liable for any injuries you might incur while trying the following exercises. Just take it easy, OK?
Squats are excellent for hamstring strength. What is a squat? You simply stand with your feet shoulder width apart, and lower yourself to the floor in a controlled manner. Try to start off easy, do 10 or 15 a day for about a week to build up some experience with the exercise, then ramp it up by 5 every week until you're doing hundreds.
If you're already a pro, try pistol squats. This is basically a squat on one leg. If you can't do any squats, then try half squats to start - just go down as far as you can before bringing yourself back up. If you're still having trouble, try using a chair and go from the sitting to the standing position until your legs are strong enough for regular squats. Squats are great for the thighs and hamstrings, and these muscles directly benefit the knee by helping to take pressure off the joint.
Riding a bicycle - either stationary or a real one - is a great way to exercise the knees and surrounding muscles in a low-impact fashion. If you're at the gym on a stationary bike, start off on a lower intensity and go as long as you can without stopping or hurting yourself. Generally, about a half hour to an hour is a good starting point. You want the exercise to be difficult, but it shouldn't hurt you or be so tiring that you can't continue for at least 30 minutes. Try upping the resistance for a couple minutes before bringing it back down to a lower level. This type of training is good for the heart as well. Take care not to overexert yourself, especially if you haven't exercised in a while.
If you're on a regular bicycle, then go for a cruise around town. Try biking 5 or 10 miles to start. Pick a route that's diverse - you want something with a few hills (it's good for you!). Again, take it slow the first couple of weeks and then try to slowly ramp up the intensity. This low impact exercise is great for the knees because it builds the supporting muscles around the knee joint, without putting huge amounts of pressure on it.
Running is typically not recommended for the knees due to the high impact nature of the exercise. However, running on the beach is a great way to exercise them because the sand takes away most of the impact. In addition, the sand takes away any stability the foot has, and forces the muscles around the knee and the ankle to work in ways they haven't before - helping keep the joint stable. With time, this sort of exercise could help stabilize a wobbly knee. It's important to note that most people find running without shoes the preferred method here.
If you don't have a bunch of sand near you, try an elliptical at the gym. Ellipticals are another great low impact exercise machine that can help build knee strength. As with any other exercise, start at a level that's difficult, but not uncomfortable. Go as long as you can manage - 30 minutes to start wouldn't be terrible.
Step ups are kind of similar to squats. The idea is that you find a platform that is about 1 to 2 feet tall, and you 'step up' onto it. Repeatedly doing this will help build the hamstrings and strengthen the knees. Be sure to fully extend your leg when you're on top of the object that you're stepping up onto - this way you work the whole leg and aren't shorting yourself while doing the exercise. Do one leg at a time, for 60 second intervals. After about 3 or 4 intervals you should be feeling pretty tired and you can swap to the next leg. Try to build on your progress every week for the best results.
You'll want to put your back against the wall and slowly slide your way down until your knees are bent at 90 degree angles. Hold this position for 45 seconds to a minute, then slide yourself back up. Be sure to keep everything lined up - your knees should be over your ankles, and your thighs should be parallel with the ground, lined up to the knees. Do 3-5 repetitions of this exercise.
If you want to make this exercise more difficult, you can try lifting one foot and then the other (one at a time, please, you can't float there with no feet on the ground!) Increase the time you hold the squat for even more difficulty. Try to push yourself ever so slightly every week or two - pushing yourself to that next level will force your muscles to get stronger.
Hopefully these knee exercises help strengthen your quadriceps and thigh muscles. These are the major muscles supporting the knee, and the stronger they are, the stronger your knee is. None of these exercises are guaranteed to help with knee pain or instability, but they have definitely worked for others with knee issues. The main thing to keep in mind is that working the muscles surrounding the knee will help redistribute the weight that your body is putting directly on your knee joints - by redistributing that weight to your muscles, you reduce wear and tear on the knee joint. This hopefully also helps eliminate some of your knee pain or inflammation.
If you want a quick fix to your knee pain, then try a knee brace. Instead of redistributing the load via your muscles, the concept behind a knee brace is that the same load is redistributed mechanically. Some knee braces even help correct knee instabilities with special hinges that help push the knee into alignment! If you have more questions about knee braces or bracing in general, it's suggested that you talk to your doctor. For more general inquiries, you can always feel free to email us as well using the 'contact us' button at the top of the page.