15 exercises for knee health
Do them regularly, and you will forget about pain and stiffness.
How exercise can support knee health
First, the exercises aim to strengthen the muscles surrounding and supporting the knee joint. Most recommended movements involve:
- The quadriceps femoris (quadriceps).
- The three muscles at the back of the thigh.
- The gluteus maximus and medius.
Also, exercise plays an important role in maintaining the volume of articular cartilage, the thinning of which is associated with a disease such as osteoarthritis. Scientists speculate that cartilage may grow in response to the mechanical stress created during exercise.
This may be why knee exercises that develop muscle strength, coordination, and balance help people with osteoarthritis relieve pain and improve their quality of life.
In addition, for knee health (and osteoarthritis pain relief), it is often recommended to perform strength movements and stretching exercises for the muscles of the thighs and lower legs. Such movements increase the mobility of the hip and ankle joints, which will improve the biomechanics of movements in sports and everyday life and take some of the load off the knee joints.
What exercises for the knee joints will help strengthen the muscles
These movements are suitable for any level of training. Some are advised to perform even with pre-existing joint problems, such as osteoarthritis. However, in the latter case, you should carefully monitor the sensations and, if pain occurs, stop the workout and consult your doctor.
1. Leg curl against the wall
Stand one foot from the wall, place your feet hip-width apart and turn your toes out. Slowly bend your knees as you slide your back against the wall. Don’t let your knees go past your toes. Make sure they point in the same direction as your feet.
You can also place an exercise ball between the wall and your back to make it slide up and down more smoothly.
Do three sets of 10 reps.
If this is too easy for you, use the static version. Lower yourself into a squat and hold the position for 30 seconds.
You can also add resistance with a fitness band – put it on your hips and squat your knees apart, overcoming the resistance of the expander.
2. Seated knee extension
Sit on a chair, and straighten your back. Slowly straighten your right knee until it is fully extended, pointing your toe slightly to the side. Squeeze the muscles on the right thigh with all your strength and hold this position for 15 seconds.
Wait to relax the muscles until the end of the work interval. Do three sets of 15 seconds on each leg.
3. Straight leg raise
Sit on the edge of a chair with a straight back and extend your left knee so the entire leg is parallel to the floor and the foot is slightly turned outward. Tighten your left hip and move it up and down in a small range. Perform ten raises and lowers without relaxing the leg and placing it on the floor at the end of the set.
Do three sets of 10 reps with each leg. If this is too easy, add resistance by putting weights on your working leg.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and turn your toes slightly outward. You can freely lower your arms to the sides, put them on your belt or stretch them out in front of you for better balance.
Sit down to a right angle at the knees or lower – as far as you are comfortable, and rise back up. Keep your back straight and keep your heels off the floor. If it’s too easy, add resistance with a fitness band or use dumbbells.
Do three sets of 10 reps.
5. Squats on one leg
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, and point your toes straight forward. Raise your left leg and balance on your right. Bend your right leg and slowly lower yourself into a squat. Make sure that the knee does not go far forward and does not turn inward. Straighten up and repeat.
Do three sets of 5 reps on each leg.
Take a step forward with your right foot, and leave the left in place. Bend your knees and lower into a lunge to a right angle at the knee of your front leg. Straighten up and repeat.
Ensure that the back remains straight during the lunge and that the knee in front of the standing leg does not go beyond the toe.
Do three sets of 5 reps with each leg.
7. Breeding the hips on the side
Lie on your left side, put your feet on each other and bend your knees. Without separating the foot, take the right thigh to the side and direct the knee to the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 seconds, return to the starting position, and repeat. Do ten times on each side (the video shows the option without fixation).
If this is too easy for you, add resistance. Buy a small fitness band and put it on your hips just below your knees.
8. Raising a straight leg lying on its side.
Lie on your left side, straighten your legs and rest your head on a bent arm or pillow. Point your toes forward. Raise your right leg, hold for 10 seconds, and lower back. Repeat the movement 4-5 times with each leg.
As with the previous movement, add resistance with a fitness band if this is too easy for you.
9. Stepping up the hill
Find a stable bench about 25–30 cm high. You can use the stairs.
Walk and return to the floor. Keep your back straight, avoid sudden movements and jerks from the floor, and make sure that the knee of the working leg does not wrap inward during the lift. Do three sets of 10 reps on each leg.
You can gradually increase the support height to 45-50 cm and use additional resistance like dumbbells.
10. Glute bridge on one or two legs
Lie on the floor, put your hands along the body, bend your legs and place your feet on the floor. Squeeze your buttocks and lift your pelvis as high as you can. Hold for a second, return to the starting position, and repeat.
You can also do a one-leg glute bridge with your supporting foot on your heel, and your knee bent at a right angle.
Perform three sets of 10 glute bridges. If you perform on one leg – 10 on each.
What exercises for the knee joints will help stretch the muscles
Performing movements to stretch the muscles, follow your feelings and take your time. You should only experience mild discomfort, not pain. Do not try to increase the range of motion in jerks – this can result in injury.
1. Stretching the muscles of the back of the thigh.
Sit on the edge of a chair, leave your right leg bent, straighten your left leg, and put it on your heel. Slightly turn the left sock to the side. Keeping your back straight and your left thigh tense, tilt your torso forward.
Feel the stretch in the back of the thigh of the extended leg. Hold this position for 15 seconds and then repeat with the other leg. Do three sets for each leg.
2. Stretching of the iliotibial tract (PBT)
To stretch the RBT on the right side, cross the right leg behind the left and tilt the body to the left, pushing the right hip to the side. Lean to the side, not forward, and don’t push your butt back. You should feel the stretch on the outside of your right thigh.
Hold in position for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side. Do three sets for each leg.
3. Stretching the front side of the thigh while standing.
During this movement, you can hold on to the back of the chair with one hand so as not to lose balance. Bend one leg, grasp the ankle with your hand, and pull the heel to the buttock. Feel the stretch in the front of your thigh.
To increase the stretch, tilt your pelvis back—imagine pulling your pubic bone toward your navel. Hold the position for 5-10 seconds, then return the foot to the floor. Perform five times with each leg.
4. Stretching the buttocks
Lie on your back, lift one knee and pull it closer to your chest, wrapping your arms around it. Point the knee towards the opposite shoulder, stretching the gluteal muscles well.
Hold the position for 30 seconds, lower your leg and repeat on the other side. Do it five times with each leg.
5. Standing calf stretch
Stand close to the wall, step back, bend your front leg, and leave the other straight. Tilt your body forward, leaning against the wall. Feel the stretch in your calf muscles. Hold the position for 30 seconds, switch legs, and repeat. Do it five times on each side.
How often do knee exercises
Do this little workout every day. As a rule, the first positive changes occur after two weeks of regular implementation of the complex.
If you are into running or other types of cardio, you can use strength exercises as a warm-up and stretch after a run.
Those involved in strength training with weights will not benefit from these movements, as they will not sufficiently load the already pumped leg muscles. In this case, you can use a block of stretching movements after your power loads.