How To Strengthen Your Knees
This article was co-authored by Monica Morris. Monica Morris is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. With over 15 years of fitness training experience, Monica started her own physical training practice and gained her ACE Certification in 2017. Her workouts emphasize proper warm-ups, cool-downs, and stretching techniques.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 12 testimonials and 97% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,291,026 times.
Its important to keep your knees strong and healthy so that your mobility doesnt deteriorate as you grow older. We often take the health of our knees for granted, not noticing theres a problem until everyday activities like lifting boxes or walking downhill become painful. Take the following measures to strengthen your knees and ensure youll stay active for as long as possible.
How Can I Make My Knees Strong And Healthy
8 Ways to Keep Your Knees Healthy as You Age Strengthen your upper and lower leg muscles. Stretch those same leg muscles to support your full range of motion. Maintain a recommended weight. Choose low-impact exercises to protect the cartilage in your knees. See a medical provider right away if you have a swollen knee.
How Do I Start Exercising
Your doctor or physical therapist will tell you which exercises are right for you.
Start slowly. Building muscle strength takes time. As you get stronger, gradually increase the number of exercise repetitions or add weight to an exercise.
Do not ignore pain. You should not feel serious pain during an exercise. You might feel discomfort because you are challenging your muscles, but not pain. If an exercise hurts, stop the exercise.
Do not overdo it. You should not feel serious pain after exercise. It is typical to feel stiff or a bit sore the day after you exercise. If you feel so sore that it is difficult to move, then you have overdone your exercise. Rest is the best thing for your sore muscles.
Ask questions. Talk to your doctor or therapist if you have any pain or are unsure of how many exercises to do, or how often to do them.
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Hamstring Curls On A Weight Bench
Muscles involved: Hamstrings and gluteal muscles.
This exercise is a variation of the standing hamstring curl. A person can try this version if they have access to a weight bench that is purpose-built for this exercise. It may be more challenging than the standing hamstring curl, depending on how much weight a person uses.
How Do Knee Sleeves Help A Squat
While it is hard to say how knee sleeves help a squat, they have some benefits. One study found that wearing a sleeve helped men increase their squat by up to 50%. A knee sleeve can improve the squat by providing extra support to the knee joint. The thicker versions may even add an extra 50lbs of poundage to the squat.
These sleeves are similar to belts worn during a one-rep maximum deadlift, and they provide extra support and mental cues to improve the mechanics of the squat. By reducing tension in the joints, they allow the quadriceps to store more energy during the eccentric phase of the squat. When the quadriceps lengthen during the hold, the energy builds up and is released when the body pushes upwards. The added power and comfort will increase the weight on the bar.
Aside from supporting the joint, knee sleeves also protect the tibial tuberosity, the bony protrusion beneath the kneecap. A good squat form means less strain and less pain. When the squat is performed properly, the tibial tuberosity is protected. The sleeve helps athletes maintain proper form by preventing the overextension of the knee.
Not all knee sleeves are created equal, but some work better than others. It all depends on the construction of the sleeve and its material. Thickness is essential, and a thicker sleeve will provide more support during the flexion phase of squats. However, if youre doing squats with heavier weights, you may want to choose a thinner sleeve.
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The Mechanisms Of The Knee
The knee is the space where our femur and tibia meet behind the kneecap, with protective cartilage in between. It’s known as a hinge jointlike our elbows, it is designed to bend one way and not the other.
The knee is also made up of ligaments and tendons that secure the bones in place, and muscles that run the whole operation. A “bad knee” could mean anything from degenerative joint disease, pain from a previous injury to theACL or MCL, a tendency to overpronate when you walk, or a dozen other ailments that may compromise your range of motion.
If you’re recovering from an injury, your best bet is to consult a physical therapist for knee-friendly exercises that won’t further damage the knee or hinder your recovery. However, for some general low-impact leg exercises that won’t put extra pressure on your knees, read on.
Exercise And Knee Pain
If your knee pain is due to an injury, surgery, or arthritis, gentle stretching and strengthening exercises may help ease the pain while also improving your flexibility and range of motion.
Exercising a knee thats injured or arthritic may seem counterintuitive, but in fact, exercise is better for your knee than keeping it still. Not moving your knee can cause it to stiffen, and this may worsen the pain and make it harder to go about your daily activities.
Gentle stretching and strengthening exercises can strengthen the muscles that support your knee joint. Having stronger muscles can reduce the impact and stress on your knee, and help your knee joint move more easily.
Before you start an exercise program for knee pain, be sure to talk to your doctor or physical therapist to make sure the exercises are safe for you. Depending on your situation, they may recommend some modifications.
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Make Swimming Part Of Your Routine
Swimming is a great low-impact exercise to keep your knees stay healthy and strong. It is almost a zero-impact way to keep your legs overall strong and healthy. During swimming, your quads and hamstrings work against water resistance and hence get strengthened. Moreover, its calming, refreshing, and great for you physically and mentally.
What Not To Do:
- Do not lock the knees during this exercise. The knees should remain slightly bent.
- Do not allow any part of the stepping foot to hang off the stool or platform.
- People who have issues with balance should not perform this exercise.
Muscles involved: Quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles.
There are many different ways to stretch the hamstrings in the back of the legs. One is through traditional toe touching.
- With the feet close together, slowly bend over at the hips and extend the arms downward. Keep the legs straight but do not lock the knees.
- Reach the fingers to the top of the toes and hold for 30 seconds.
- Initially, it may not be possible to reach the toes. In this case, try to get the fingers as close as possible to the toes without causing pain.
What not to do:
- Do not use a bouncing motion. Hold the body still.
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Do Knee Sleeves Help You Squat More Weight
There are a lot of misconceptions about knee sleeves. While they may help you to squat more weight and increase your range of motion, you shouldnt put too much weight on your knees. In addition to being uncomfortable, they do not prevent injuries. A sleeve may actually help you squat more weight, but it is important to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that knee sleeves will improve your squat.
A knee wrap is a bandage-like product that fits on your knees. These wraps are inserted into your knees and slip over your leg. You should place them on your knees so that the logo is facing forward. Once youve placed the sleeves on your knees, youll need to make sure the material below and above your knees are equally spaced apart. Generally, it is easier to put on the sleeve before a warm-up session, as it can be a challenge to pull up once you start sweating.
If youre a beginner squatter, dont bother with knee sleeves. They wont improve your squat on their own. Several other factors need to be in order for knee sleeves to help you increase your squat. While knee sleeves will probably give you a slight boost, they can still hinder your progress. A good coach will check your movements and recommend training gear.
Exercises For Knee Arthritis
If you have knee arthritis, you might be worried that exercises will make the condition worse. After all, knee arthritis usually is caused by wear and tear on the joints. Doesnt that mean more wear and tear from exercise will make the condition worse? The answer is, it depends on the exercise. Many knee exercises for arthritis can actually help decrease symptoms and improve joint health by reducing inflammation and stabilizing the joint.
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Prone Straight Leg Raises
Lie on your stomach with your legs straight. Tighten the muscles in your bottom and the hamstring of one leg, and lift toward the ceiling. Hold 3-5 seconds, lower, and repeat. Do 10-15 lifts and switch sides. You can add ankle weights as you gain strength. You shouldnt feel back pain. If you do, limit how high you lift up. If it still hurts, stop and talk to your doctor.
Pay Attention To How You Sit
One of the easiest ways to maintain your knees healthily doesnt necessarily need exercise its all about the habit of how you sit.
To quote Sidney Hagge-Cocke, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Preferred Physical Therapy in Kansas City, Kansas: Make a habit of sitting without crossing your legs. Never sit on a sofa with your legs under you. When you sit with your legs crossed, more pressure is put on your knee joints which can cause irritation or pain that is likely to progress to more pain moving forward.
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How Exercise Helps Knee Arthritis
Exercise programs for arthritis that include strength and aerobic exercise can help reduce symptoms, improve joint motion and function, enhance balance, and control body weight. With knee OA, strength training exercises are particularly important, adds Lauren Shroyer, MS, director of product development at the American Council on Exercise.
Thats because as you age, balance can decline for multiple reasons arthritis in your knee can affect balance as well. Strength exercises help stabilize your knee and retain that balance for longer periods of time. Plus, your body relies on muscles to help motor joints, adds Dr. Johnson. For the knee, thats the quadriceps in the front of the thigh and hamstrings in the back.
You cant cure arthritis or make it go away, says Dr. Johnson. But if you strengthen the muscles that support and stabilize the knee, you can take some of the stress load of weight-bearing or walking off a joint thats worn out and weakened from arthritis, and place it on the stronger muscle.
Whats Causing Your Knee Crunching And Pain
For now, lets leave specific, traumatic knee injuries asideafter all, when those happen, for the most part, you know what went wrong. And youve probably got a recovery plan in place with your physician and physical therapist.
Also more commonly, both serious and relatively minor knee injuries are non-contact knee injuries. Ligaments and muscles can be sprained and strained without being tackled or anything hitting your knee. These injuries occur from excessive forces at the knee due to misalignments in landing from jumps or running, and can have a lot to do with improper habitual movement patterns.
To explain this further, lets do a quick rundown of how the knee works
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Simple Home Exercises And Stretches Can Help Ease Some Common Types Of Knee Pain
If youve got sore knees, exercise might seem like the hardest thing you can do but its also one of the best.
“Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for knee pain,” says Dr. Lauren Elson, an instructor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School.
The right combination of strengthening and stretching exercises can relieve pain by helping to improve the way the joint moves and functions.
“The knee is often an innocent bystander between the hip and the foot. Knee pain is often caused by problems occurring above or below,” says Dr. Elson.
For example, weak hip muscles may cause more strain on the knee, intensifying your pain. Strengthening the muscles around the hip joint can help relieve it, says Dr. Elson.
In addition, knee pain is sometimes caused or aggravated by tight muscles around the knee, a problem that is often successfully addressed by stretching. If the muscles arent flexible, the knee joint sometimes wont move properly, says Dr. Elson.
Strengthen The Muscles Surrounding Your Knee
My last tip to you is to spend some time building the muscles surrounding your knees to stay pain-free.
As per my experience, the best way for 50-plus adults to keep their knees healthy and strong is to strengthen the muscles that support their knees. They can achieve that by working on all the muscles in the quadriceps , hamstrings , as well as the abductor and adductor muscles . Weak and imbalanced muscles supporting your knees can cause knee-joint wear and tear, leading to pain.
About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. He passed Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says: For me, age is just a number!
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What Not To Do
- Do not let the back arch during the exercise.
- Do not jerk or bounce the leg or lift it above the knee on the bent leg.
- People who have osteoporosis or a back compression fracture should not perform this exercise.
Muscles involved: Hamstrings and gluteal muscles.
How To Make Your Knees Strong
Your knees get involved in almost all actions in your daily life. Your legs are supported by knees. You can’t stand, walk or run if your knees are weak.
How to strengthen them? With age, your knees will start giving up. And if you smoke or drink, your knee health deteriorates sooner.
If you sit throughout the day, or eat lots of salt or injure yourself at the knee or seldom eat knee- healthy foods, your middle age might become old age. So, here are some ways to keep your knees strong…
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Exercises To Reduce Knee Pain
You don’t have to be an athlete to do knee-strengthening exercises. Knee exercises are inexpensive, easy ways to start recovering from knee pain.
Knee-strengthening exercises are one of the best ways to avoid injuries and to treat knee pain. “We’re living in a world where we do more and more, so we’re seeing both younger and older patients with knee pain,” says Robert Gotlin, DO, director of orthopedic and sports rehabilitation in the department of orthopedic surgery at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. “Knee problems are catching up and maybe even exceeding lower back problems. Knees are now on top of the list as the No. 1 physical injury.”
Exercising Pain Out of Your Knees
The most proactive step you can take in dealing with knee pain and preventing further damage is to exercise. By building strong muscles, you can reduce knee pain and stress and help your knee joint better absorb shock. Strengthening exercises involve developing stronger muscles in your quadriceps as well as the hamstring . Having strong muscles in place can take some of the pressure off your knees.
People need to remember that the body is all connected, including the bones, Dr. Gotlin says. “One should never think about strengthening just the knee start with the hip muscles, because they control the knee.”
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests the following tips to stay safe and avoid further injury:
Reduce Knee Pain With Exercise