6 Exercises to Strengthen Your Knees

by Mike Stewart
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Having weak knees can limit you physically. First and foremost, it can prevent you from doing many fun and exciting stuff, such as hiking and skiing. It can even make walking just around the block difficult, especially if you are in your senior years. Most importantly, it increases your odds of fractures, sprains, and other injuries.

What are some common knee problems?

Knee problems can affect anyone, whether you are a man or a woman, young or old. They can be caused by medical conditions or injuries that can cause a variety of signs and symptoms, including:

  • Weakness
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Crunching noises
  • The knee gives out or is unstable when you try to stand or walk
  • Pain when trying to move the knee or putting weight on the knee
  • Not being able to fully straighten the knee

Examples of common medical conditions and injuries that can cause knee problems are:

  • Fractures

If you fall or get into a car accident, you may fracture the bones of your knees, particularly your kneecap or patella, and experience a lot of pain and be unable to make full use of your knees for a while. Or if you have osteoporosis, your knees may be affected and become weakened, increasing your risk of fracture.

  • ACL injury

The anterior cruciate ligament or ACL is one of the four ligaments that attach your shinbone and thighbone to each other. Many athletes, most especially those that play soccer and basketball, suffer from ACL injuries and take several months to recover.

  • Torn meniscus

athlete with injured kneeLocated between your shinbone and your thighbone is your meniscus, which is a cartilage with rubber-like properties that act as a shock absorber. If, for example, you suddenly twist a knee while playing soccer or basketball, you can tear your meniscus and take several months to recover.

  • Patellar tendinitis

Tendons are thick and fibrous connective tissues that connect your muscles to your bones. If one or more of them get irritated and inflamed, tendinitis can occur. This problem frequently affects runners, cyclists, and skiers.

  • Osteoarthritis

This is the most prevalent type of arthritis. It develops slowly and gets worse as you age. It causes a number of symptoms, such as pain, stiffness, tenderness, loss of mobility and flexibility, and swelling.

What factors can increase your risk of knee problems?

Anyone can get knee problems, but there are certain people that are more likely to have it than others. Below are some common risk factors linked to knee problems:

  • Overweight or obesity

If you are carrying excess weight in the body, you are subjecting your knees to extra stress every time you stand, walk, going up or down the stairs, and others. You also become at greater risk of osteoarthritis, which can speed up the breakdown of your joint cartilage.

  • Certain occupations or activities

If you are an athlete, you utilize your knees much more than a regular person, so your risk of tearing a ligament or fracturing your kneecap is higher. You also put your knees under repetitive stress, increasing your risk of an injury. This also applies to certain occupations, such as construction work.

  • History of injury

If you had a knee injury in the past, your risk of injuring your knee again increases.

What exercises can help strengthen weak knees?

Health experts say that exercise can be greatly beneficial to your knees. If you want to enhance the strength and flexibility of your knees and the muscles around them and reduce your risk of injuries, you have to do knee strengthening exercises on a regular basis. Below are highly recommended knee exercises:

  1. Step exercises

This targets the quadriceps, hip flexors, gluteal muscles, and hamstrings. You will need a stable and sturdy platform or stool that is at most six inches tall to do this exercise. To start, step up onto the platform or stool using your right foot first, leaving your left foot hanging behind it. Stay in that position for about five seconds. Switch feet and repeat.

  1. Straight leg raises

leg raisesThis works the quadriceps, lower back, and abdominal muscles. To start, lie flat on your back, with both of your legs extended straight out on the floor. Keeping your knee straight, lift your right leg up until about six inches off the ground. Hold for about five seconds, and go back to starting position. Switch legs and repeat.

  1. Knee marches

This works your thigh, quad, and core muscles. To start, sit in a chair, keeping your back straight and your legs and feet together. Slowly lift your right leg up toward your chest, lower it back down, and then switch legs, just like you are marching. Repeat.

  1. Wall squats

This targets the gluteal muscles and the quadriceps. To start, stand straight with your back, shoulders, hips, and head flat against a wall. Step both your feet forward, keeping your back and shoulders touching the wall. Slide down the wall until you are in a sitting position. Hold for about five seconds, then go back to starting position. Repeat.

  1. Chair dips

This works your hamstrings, gluteal muscles, quadriceps, and hip flexors. You will need a stable and sturdy chair to perform this exercise. To start, sit in the chair, with your feet flat on the floor, about shoulder-width apart, and your hands on the arms of the chair. Push yourself up off the chair, making sure your back and shoulders remain straight. Hold that position for five seconds, then go back to starting position. Repeat.

  1. Heel raises

This targets the stabilizer muscles that surround the knees. To start, stand straight, with your feet about shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides. Raise your heels off the ground, putting your weight onto the balls of your feet. Stay in that position for about three to five seconds, and then go back to starting position. Repeat. If you are having trouble with your balance, you can do the exercise near a wall or a chair.

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