The knee is the largest joint in the body. People use it heavily every day as they walk, run, climb, or jump. As a result, it is also very prone to injury and pain. When these occur, a doctor may recommend exercises to help a person strengthen the muscles around the knee.
People of all ages may experience knee pain. According to the National Library Of Medicine, a type of knee pain called patellofemoral pain syndrome, or runner’s knee, is the most common orthopedic condition in sports medicine. In addition to being common in athletic people, knee pain can also be a problem for people who have arthritis.
While it may be tempting to avoid exercise when knee pain occurs, this is not always the appropriate solution. Certain types of exercise can help alleviate existing knee pain and prevent future pain or injury by providing the knee with extra support.
Benefits of Knee-Strengthening Exercises Added to Your Routine
The Arthritis Foundation state that exercise may be the most effective way to treat osteoarthritis without surgery, while the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons notes that strong and flexible muscles can keep knees healthy and prevent injury.
Knee strengthening exercises do not affect the knee joint directly, but they strengthen the muscles surrounding it. “Strong muscles in the legs can help provide support for the knees. This support may alleviate pressure and strain on these joints, which can relieve pain and help a person be more active”.
It is best to warm up with light exercise before starting any knee strengthening exercises. Examples of gentle exercise include walking, cycling, and using an elliptical machine, all of which put minimal stress on the knees. This activity will help increase blood flow to the muscles and allow them to be more flexible.
Many people turn to knee exercises when they want to strengthen the muscles and tendons that surround their knees. Knee strengthening exercises improve stability and reduce your chance of injury while helping you maintain or increase strength and flexibility.
What are the best knee-strengthening exercises?
Here are seven knee-strengthening exercises that you can try at home or in the gym:
1. Wall Sits.
Wall sits are a great exercise for beginners because they strengthen the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes with little strain on the lower back and hips.
To do a wall sit, find a clear space of wall and bring yourself to a standing position with your feet about shoulder-width apart.
Next, lean against the wall and slide your body down until your thighs are at about a 90-degree angle with the floor. Remain in this position as long as you can, working up to two minutes.
2. Leg Presses.
Leg presses strengthen the quadriceps and improve knee stability by strengthening the tendons and ligaments that surround your knees.
To do a leg press, sit on a weight machine with the sled locked in at knee height, or rest your hips on an exercise ball if you prefer to work out at home.
Once you’re in position, bend your legs slightly and push the sled to straighten your legs.
Pause before bending your knees again.
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3. Standing and Lying Leg Curls.
Lying and standing leg curls strengthen the hamstrings and improve thigh definition by toning the muscles that run along the backs of your thighs.
To do a standing leg curl, find an exercise machine with a hamstring curl bar and step up onto the platform directly in front of the weight stack. Hold on to the railing for support as you lift one foot off the platform and pull your heel toward your buttocks by contracting your hamstrings. Before lowering that foot back to the platform, lift it again to complete one rep.
To do a lying leg curl, lie face-up on an exercise bench with your calves pressed against the thigh adductor pad.
Hold onto the side of the bench for support as you bend your knees and raise your hips off the bench by contracting your hamstrings. Bend your knees as far as you comfortably can before lowering your hips and legs to complete one rep.
4. Stiff-Legged Deadlifts.
Stiff-legged deadlifts are effective because they help maintain mobility in your hips, lower back, and spine.
To do a stiff-legged deadlift, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Bend at the waist, keeping your back straight and lowering your torso until you can place one hand on either side of a light barbell or weight machine. If you opt for free weights, hold onto a dumbbell in each hand with palms facing inward toward each other.
Bend slightly at the knees as you contract your hamstrings to raise your torso back up into a standing position.
Pause before repeating the movement to complete one rep.
5. Glute Bridges.
Glute bridges strengthen both the glutes and hamstrings while improving coordination and balance by working for several different muscle groups at once.
To do a glute bridge, lie face-up on the floor with palms flat next to your sides, knees bent, and feet hip-width apart.
Holding onto a light barbell or weight machine for support, engage your glutes to lift your hips off the floor until your body forms a straight line from shoulders to knees. Pause at the top before lowering yourself back down.
6. Straight-Legged Deadlifts.
Straight-legged deadlifts help improve flexibility in your hamstrings while toning both the muscles along the backs of thighs and buttocks.
To do a straight-legged deadlift, stand with feet shoulder-width apart and hands on your hips while looking straight ahead. Bend at the waist until the torso is parallel to the ground, keeping the back flat throughout the movement. While legs are mostly straight, slowly lower the torso by bending at the knees and hips until you can place one hand on either side of a light barbell or weight machine.
Before returning to the standing position, contract your hamstrings to lift your torso back up into a straight-legged position. Pause before lowering yourself again to complete one rep.
7. Reverse Lunges.
Reverse lunges strengthen both the glutes and hamstrings as well as improve coordination and balance by working for several different muscle groups at once.
To do a reverse lunge, stand with feet together and hold onto a light barbell or weight machine for support.
Step backward with one foot and slowly lower into a lunge position until the front knee forms a 90-degree angle.
Pause before returning back to the standing position by contracting your hamstrings and glutes to push yourself back up into starting position. Repeat on the opposite leg to complete one rep.
Knee-Strengthening Exercises – Bottom Line
The stronger your hamstrings become, the less likely you are to suffer from knee pain or injury.
By adding hamstring curls, lying leg curls, stiff-legged deadlifts, glute bridges and reverse lunges to your routine several times a week, you can help protect your knees by strengthening the muscles that stabilize them.
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