The human knee is a complex and important, yet very vulnerable, joint. Though many people seeking treatment are athletes of some kind, knee problems can happen to anyone, athlete or non-athlete, because the human knee by nature is highly susceptible to injury.
The knee must be able to move freely back and forth, twist and pivot in order to give your lower body a full range of motion. Because of its complexity, there is no one single best exercise for knees.
The best way to heal damaged and/or strained knees is through a series of knee-strengthening exercises. People who perform knee-strengthening exercises experience less pain, recover more quickly from injuries, are able to regain more physical function and reduce chances of future knee injury. Here are 5 of the best knee strengthening exercises you can do to save your knees.
1. Long Arcs One of the best way to strengthen knees is to focus on strengthening the quads, which are the muscles at the front of the thigh that help straighten the knee. Weak quad muscles are one of the most common causes of knee pain, making it an important area of focus for strengthening.
How To Do It: Start by sitting on a firm, unpadded chair with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Lift one foot up, straightening your knees out in front as much as you can. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then lower slowly. Repeat 5-20 times, 3 times daily, alternating legs as you go. For more of a challenge, try adding an ankle weight.
2. The Bridge This exercise helps strengthen the hamstrings, which are the back thigh muscles used when bending the knee.
How To Do It: Start by lying flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Engage your thigh muscles to lift your buttocks up off the floor as high as you can without arching the back, clenching the muscles in your bottom as you lift. Breathe smoothly throughout. Hold the position for 3-5 seconds, then lower slowly. Repeat 10-25 times, 1-2 times daily.
3. The Clam This exercise targets the glutes, which are the buttock muscles. Having strong glutes helps support the knee by evenly distributing weight put on the knees. This exercise is so effective, in fact, that it is even prescribed as part of knee physiotherapy after meniscal repair.
How To Do It: Start by lying down on your side with your knees bent at about a 90-degree angle and stacked on top of one another. Lift the top knee up as high as you can while still keeping the feet together. Hold for 3 seconds, then lower slowly. Repeat 10-25 times on each side, twice daily.
4. Heel Raises The calf muscles are located in the back of the leg, between the knee and the ankle. They are responsible for foot and ankle movement, and thus help support the knee.
How To Do It: Start by standing with your feet about shoulder-width apart, distributing your weight evenly in both legs, holding onto something for balance if needed. Rise up onto your toes, lifting the heels as high off the ground as you can. Keep your posture upright and hold for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 10-30 times, twice daily.
5. One Leg Stand Balance retraining is one of the best exercises to strengthen knees. Good balance is crucial to preventing knee injuries. Poor balancing skills is a sign of weak knees, as the muscles around the knees are largely responsible for making the slight adjustments needed to achieve balance.
How To Do It: Start by standing near some sort of support, such as wall or chair. Lift up a leg and balance on the other leg for as long as you can. Spend 5 minutes doing this twice daily. For an added challenge, try closing your eyes while performing the exercise.