As weight-bearing joints, your knees can take a beating in the course of daily life. They support your body and help you lift heavy objects. And, if you’re an athlete or a gym devotee, you might be susceptible to knee injuries.
It’s important to protect and strengthen your joints as you age to avoid knee pain. With that in mind, here are the top 5 exercises to strengthen knees. It’s important to note that these are self-weight exercises, by which we mean that you’ll be using your own body weight as resistance.
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#1: Straight Leg Raises
This first exercises strengthens the knee by working the quadriceps, the largest muscle in your legs. Do it by lying flat on your back.
Pull your toes toward you. Keeping your knee straight, tighten the muscles in the front of your thigh and lift your leg about six inches off the surface you’re lying on. Hold for about three seconds and then lower your leg back to its original position.
You can repeat this exercise 10 times twice a day to start. Gradually increasing your repetitions will give your knee the support it needs.
#2: Hamstring Kick Backs
Next, you’ll need to work your hamstrings. These are the muscles on the backs of your thighs that are responsible for bending your knees. Strengthening them will support your knees by reducing pain.
To do this exercise, stand up straight with your hands on something sturdy, such as the back of a chair or a table. Ensure that you don’t bend forward and that your knees are in line with one another.
One at a time, lift your heel up toward your buttocks. The goal is to let your hamstring do the work of bending your knee. Repeat 20 or 25 times on each leg.
#3: Buttock Clenches
Your glutes – the muscles in your buttocks – are the largest muscles in your body and play an important role in strengthening weak knees, which is why we’ve included it on our list of the top 5 exercises to strengthen knees.
This exercise is a very easy one. You can do it while lying down or sitting up. Simply clench your buttocks tightly so you feel yourself raise up a bit. Hold the clench for three to five seconds, and then release.
You should repeat this exercise 10 to 20 times, three times a day. As you get stronger, you can hold each clench for a longer time.
#4: One-Leg Balance
Balancing can be difficult when you have a knee injury or suffer from knee pain. Proper balance requires the use of your leg muscles and core muscles, including those muscles in and around the knee.
A simple balancing exercise to try involves standing on one leg. This position forces your leg, buttock, and core muscles to coordinate and support you. Here’s how to do it.
Stand near a table or chair so you can get support if you need it. The goal is to stand on the leg that requires strengthening. Simply bend your other knee to lift your foot off the floor. Stand in that position, holding it for as long as possible.
If you feel a bit wobbly, don’t worry. That’s normal. However, you should try to repeat this exercise several times a day and hold it longer each time. As you progress, try closing your eyes to add an extra challenge.
#5: Step Ups
Once you’ve strengthened the muscles around your knees and improved your balance, you can try something more difficult. This exercise works and lubricates the knee without straining it.
To do it, stand at the bottom of a staircase or, if you prefer, a portable aerobic step. Make sure that the step is sturdy. Leading with the leg you want to work, step up onto the step and bring your other leg up so both feet are on the step.
Then, again leading with same leg, step back down and follow with your other leg. You can repeat this exercise up to 30 times twice a day.
Strengthening your knees is a must whether you have knee pain as the result of an injury or an illness like arthritis. These top 5 exercises to strengthen knees will allow you to heal properly while giving your knees the support they need.