Your knee is the largest and one of the most used joints in your body hence you should worry about strengthening your knees. From walking, running, climbing, standing, or bending, much of your everyday physical activity engages your knee muscles. As a result, your knee is highly susceptible to injury.
While your risk for knee injury increases as you get older, people of all ages can experience knee pain. According to a study by the United States Bone and Joint Initiative, chronic knee pain was reported by people of all ages over 18, with more than one in four adults over 65 reporting knee pain.
Fortunately, there are a variety of exercises for knee pain and strengthening your knees in order to minimize discomfort and prevent injury. These are a few movements to strengthen your knees that you can do at home.
Straight Leg Raise
The straight leg raise is a popular physical therapy exercise for straightening your knees and treat knee pain.
How to: Lie on your back with your hips squared and your legs comfortably on the floor.
Bend your uninjured knee at a 90-degree angle and plant that foot on the floor. Keep your injured leg straight and contract your quads (the front of your thigh). Lift your straight leg six inches off the ground and hold for three seconds. Lower your leg to the ground and then repeat 10 times.
Squat for Strengthening Your Knees
This exercise strengthens your knees by targeting the quad, hamstring, and glute muscles.
How to: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your back straight and your abs engaged, slowly bend your knees and sit back as if you are sitting in a chair. Keep your knees in line with your toes. Repeat 12 times.
This exercise is for strengthening your knees by targeting your thighs and hips. It also will improve your balance.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a big step forward, and slowly lower your hips by bending both of your knees. Keep your front knee in line with your toes and pause for one second. Push up off the front heel to return to your starting, standing position, and then repeat with the other leg. Do 12 reps.
Deep Knee Bend
The deep knee bend is one of the best stretches for strengthening your knees, and for improving overall balance and stability.
How to: Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your toes pointed slightly outward. Place your hands behind your head and Interlock your fingers. Bend over slightly at your waist, then bend your knees to lower into a squat. Lower yourself until your thighs are beyond parallel to the floor. Leave your heels on the floor to keep your knees safe. To prevent your heels from lifting, you can push your hips back and hinge forward further.
Lunging Hip Flexor Stretch
This stretch opens your hips, which relieves pressure on your quads and knee muscles.
How to: Kneel on one knee and place the opposite foot flat in front of you with your thigh parallel to the floor. Lean forward and stretch your hip toward the floor. For a deeper stretch, tighten your glutes. Reach up with your arm that’s on the same side as the knee on the floor to further deepen the stretch. Switch sides and repeat.
Figure Four Stretch
This stretch relieves pressure on your knees, glutes, and back.
How to: Lie flat on your back. Bend one knee with your foot flat on the floor. Cross the opposite foot over your thigh. Hold the back of the leg that is on the floor, and gently pull it toward your chest until you feel a comfortable stretch. Hold your leg there four or five seconds. Then switch sides and repeat.
Because most everyday activities put stress on your knees, many adults suffer from knee discomfort and injury.
As with any ailment, it is important to speak with a medical professional to determine what is best for your body. However, regularly doing exercises for strengthening your knees joints and surrounding muscles is a great starting point for soothing knee pain and preventing further injury.