According to studies, about 20% of adult population suffers from some kind of a problem with the knees. And those with knee injuries or weak knees know all too well what difficulty a knee problem can cause. Bad knees can get in your way and lower your performance, either in the gym or when doing everyday things like walking or jogging.
Unlike the shoulders, the knees have a smaller range of motion which makes them more susceptible to injuries. The reasons for knee pain can be many – from over using them, to under using them, to muscle imbalances or mobility issues.
However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t fix your knees. Like experts say – exercise may be the best medicine for chronic achy knees. Strengthening the muscles around the knee is almost guaranteed that it will make the knee feel better. Use these knee strengthening exercises and stretches to strengthen your knees.
Knee Strengthening Exercises and Stretches
Read further to see what exercises and stretches can be beneficial for strengthening the knees.
Resistance Band Distraction for Ankle Mobility
The ankle’s job is to make your knees and hips work together and create a movement (by rotation). A stiff ankle can cause pain, discomfort and even an injury. Band distractions will improve the mobility of the ankle and the range of motion. This in turn will help to alleviate pain in the knee.
Execution: Put one end of a resistance band around your ankle and the other around a stiff object. Put your banded leg in front of the other one like you are going to do a lounge. From this position, drive the knee (of the banded leg) forward up to a position where you still feel comfortable while keeping the foot firmly on the ground. You can even try mild rotations of the ankle. Be sure not to lift your foot on your toes. Repeat 25-30 times for each leg.
Quadriceps Stretch Against the Wall
This is a very good stretch that not only stretches your quads, but also your ankles, shins, and your knees.
Execution: Kneel in front of a wall with your back facing the wall. Put the leg you want to stretch up against the wall with the toes on the actual wall surface. Support on your knee which should be standing right at the base of the wall. Bring the other leg into a lunge position and lift the torso up. The closer your knee is to the wall, the greater the stretch.
Terminal Knee Extension
This is a great exercise that will get the blood flowing into the knee.
Execution: Put one side of a resistance band around a stiff object (at a height which is about 15cm higher than your knee) and the other side around your leg, right above the knee. Face the object to which the band is attached to and the banded leg in front of you. Step a bit back to get some tension in the band. From this position bend and extend the knee, focusing on straightening the knee completely. Do not move with your whole body, just the knee. Do 20-30 reps with each leg.
When it comes to the knees, you need to understand that the knee does a fantastic job in stabilization. For many people with knee problems, doing exercises with one knee at the time, will enable them to work much better on the bad knee. Standing on one leg allows people to put their bodies in a better technical position to perform a movement properly without further injuring themselves.
Execution: Depending on your strength you can do step ups with or without dumbbells. In this article, we’ll take a look at the dumbbell version.
Stand in front of a bench or a knee height platform, grab one dumbbell in each hand. Step up the bench with one leg and climb up until the leg is fully extended. Step back down with the other leg. Then do the same for the other leg. Do 2 sets of 12-15 reps.
Stiff Leg Deadlift
Many trainees neglect the hamstrings, which could be a reason for knee problems in future. The stiff leg deadlift targets hamstrings and glutes directly.
Execution: Start with a stance where your feet are a bit narrower than your shoulders. The toes should be facing forward. Grab a barbell with shoulder width overhand or mixed grip, and lift it to the starting position. From this position lower the bar by bending your hips, till the plates touch ( or almost touch the floor ) and you feel a full stretch in your hams. Go back into the starting position.
Your knees should be only slightly bend and your back and lower back straight. You can bend your back only slightly at the bottom of the movement.
Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
Squats to a box, a chair or a bench can greatly help you work on the quads and knee supporting muscles, without the risk of damaging the knees.
Stand with a stance a bit wider than your shoulders width. Your toes should be pointing slightly outwards. Bend your knees and squat until the point where you are seated on the bench or the chair. Pause and climb back up. Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions.
The calves move your foot and your ankle, and help support the knee. This is why calf exercises should be included with knee strengthening exercises.
Execution:Holding on to back of a chair or some other stable surface, rise up on toes, lifting heels off ground and then slowly lower back down. Do 3-4 sets of 10 to 12 reps.