6 Exercises to strengthen your knee and to keep you away from knee pain
There is a saying that you are as old as your knees. If you will ask any of the long distance runners, soccer players or ballerinas, they will say that the saying is true. Nearly 50 million Americans deal with various degrees of knee pain every day.
Knees are the most commonly used joints of the body. Just consider that when you walk up the stairs, you put four times your body weight on your knees to complete the simple task. Similarly, if you are used to walking long distances every day, your knees will get worn out by the time you reach old age and you mobility will be limited.
You can avoid knee pain, by simple care and maintenance. If you are already experiencing pain in the knees, you need to immediately address the issue and start working out. Exercising the muscles surrounding the knee joint will lead to less pressure on knees and they will become stronger. Here are 6 such exercises that will make your knees stronger than ever.
1 Straight leg lift
This exercise focuses on the quadriceps and hip flexors. These muscles complement the simple motion of walking and this exercise work the muscles in opposition that usually go underused, like small quadriceps muscles of thighs.
Start by lying on the back with your right leg straight and extended; now bend your left knee and keep the left foot flat. Now contract the right thigh muscles to straighten the knee, but do not lock the knee. Slowly raise the legs until the knees are parallel to each other.
Repeat 8-12 times with 2 sets on each side. Start with a count to 35 in the upward position.
2 Wall Sit
The wall sit is a simple but multi beneficial exercise that targets muscles like hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteal and abdominal muscles.
Stand with your lower back against an exercise ball of around 25 inches resting against a wall. Feet should be at width from shoulder distance from the wall. Slowly bend your knees and lower body till the thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep the knees above the feet and contract the abs. Pause at the bottom and then rise slowly.
Repeat this 8-12 times with 2 sets each. Increase the pause at the bottom to 3,5 and if you can to 10 counts.
Lie flat on the back and keep your arms at side. Bend both the knees, with feet flat on the floor. Now lift the trunk and hips off the floor using the abdominal and gluteal muscles in one motion. Squeeze the buttocks on the top and slowly lower yourself back. Keep the pressure on the shoulders and don’t push with the hands.
If you feel cramping in the hamstrings, then lower yourself in order to release the pressure. Repeat 8-12 times and work for 2 sets. This position will work the glutes, hamstrings and lower back and abdominal muscles which keep the pressure evenly on the knees and make them strong to bear the body weight.
4 Single Calf Raise
Your ankle has to be stable in order to keep the knees in prime condition. This exercise builds calf strength and increases ankle stability and balance. Hold onto a chair or the wall for support and lift your right leg with the shin parallel to the floor, extend the left ankle and lift the body with the toes. Lower yourself slowly and repeat 8-12 times.
Now step forward with the right leg for a calf stretch, but keep the left leg straight and left heel on the ground. Repeat the exercise on both sides with pauses for 6-8 counts.
5 Quadriceps Stretch
Lying on your side, keep your hips and shoulders stacked, and then pull the top foot toward the butt with top hand. Use a towel or a t-shirt to extend the grip. Keeps the knees aligned and then pull one knee back behind the other knee, maintaining the stacked hip. Hold the position for 6-8 slow deep breaths and repeat for 2-3 times.
This stretch will loosen your quadriceps and hip flexors.
6 Modified hurdlers stretch
This is a better way to stretch multiple muscles and strengthening them in one move. Now while seated, extend one leg and place the bottom of the other foot against that knee. Remember not to lock the knee of the stretched leg.
Now hold the shoulders, torso and back straight, lower the torso forward. Don’t collapse through chest or round the back. Putting some pressure on the bent leg will stretch the inner thigh muscles. Hold the position for 6-8 deep breaths and repeat for 2-3 times on both sides.
Apart from these exercises, do remember to consult your physician if you experience knee pain and it doesn’t go away from using ice, heat or massage.