Prevent or reverse knee pain with this series of strength building exercises and stretches.
Our knees carry quite the load and when they are supported by strong, balance muscles and tendons they do an amazing job. However due to overuse, underuse, injury or surgery, knee pain can rear it’s ugly head and sideline us from activities we love, or worse make every day activities extremely painful.
The good news is that by including these simple exercises and stretches into your routine, you can bring balance and support back to the knee joint and improve or eliminate knee pain.
Remember, though it may seem counterintuitive, movement is the best thing for knee pain. Inactivity or not moving the knee joint causes it to stiffen and the muscles around it to weaken which only makes the problem worse.
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.
Strength Exercises for Knee Pain:
Depending on your current level of knee pain, begin with the first two exercises. Once your strength increases and swelling and pain has decreased, slowly add the last two exercises. These exercises can be done daily or at least 3-4 times per week.
Isometric Contraction: Sitting on your bed or floor with legs out straight, place a towel underneath your knee. Flex your quad muscle with hip/leg slightly externally rotated. Hold the contraction for 5-10 seconds, placing your fingers on the quad muscle to ensure is activating and firing. Try 10 reps for 10 seconds and as your strength/endurance improves increase the length of your contractions.
Seated Isometric Quad and Adductor Contraction: Sit on a chair or platform where your feet hang freely. Place a ball between your thighs and squeeze the ball, activating your inner thighs (adductors). Hold your contraction for 10 seconds for 10 repetitions. Increase length of contraction as you become stronger.
Externally rotated ½ squats: Stand with your legs shoulder width apart with knees and feet slightly externally rotated or turned out. Squat half way down and come up very slowly focusing on activating the quads to bring you back up to standing position. Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions and increase or come lower as you become stronger.
Wall/Ball Squats: Place a swiss ball on your back against a wall. Slowly squat down into a near seated position so that your thighs are parallel with the ground. Push the heels into the ground to slowly come back up, avoid locking your knees. Complete 3 sets of 10 repetitions and increase as you become stronger.
Stretches for Knee Pain:
Heel & Calf Stretch: Stand facing a wall. Place your hands on the wall and move one foot back as far as you can comfortably. Toes on both feet should be facing forward, heels flat, with a slight bend in your knees. Lean into the stretch and hold for 30s to one minute. You should feel the stretch in your back leg. Change legs and repeat.
Side Lying Quad Stretch: Begin by lying on your left side. Grab the foot of the right leg (top leg) and pull the heel towards your backside. Keep the knees together and ensure that you are not tipping your body forward or backwards towards the floor. You should feel a stretch in the front of the thigh of the right leg. Hold for 30s to one minute then switch sides and repeat.
Doorway Hamstring Stretch: Lie down on your back near the left side of a doorway, placing your left leg against the wall and extending your right leg through the doorway. (It may be easier to get this close by rolling onto your right side, bringing the left leg up the wall, and then turning onto your back. If tightness in your hamstrings does not allow you to bring the entirety of your left leg against the wall, don’t worry: Come only as close as you can while feeling a tolerable degree of stretch. As you repeat this stretch, aim to gradually inch closer.) Flexing your left foot, press your left leg into the wall to activate your hamstrings 5-10s. Relax the leg and try to move a little closer to the wall to increase the stretch. Repeat the contraction for another 5-10s, relax and move a little closer if possible. Repeat the contraction and relaxation once more then switch sides.
Add these exercises and stretches to your routine 3-4 times per week and make knee pain a thing of the past.
Looking for more exercise ideas? Check out the other articles in the blog here
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