If you suffer from knee pain, it can be quite debilitating. However, there are several exercises you can try to help strengthen your knees, the surrounding structures, and so alleviate your pain. In this article, we’ll look at six of the best.
What are the Common Causes of Knee Pain?
There are many reasons why people experience knee pain, including:
- Recent or historic injury
- Torn ligaments
Some causes are degenerative, while others can be resolved to restore full function. Unfortunately, knee injuries may reoccur, so it’s good to have a strategy in place to help alleviate any pain.
The Top 6 Exercises and Stretches to Alleviate Knee Pain
Before we explain which exercises you can try, let us offer a word of caution. If you experience any strain or additional pain when attempting them, stop immediately and rest your knee. Try to be gentle with yourself as you navigate these new exercises, and don’t take on excessive pressure.
Be safe, be sensible, and be healthy!
1: Straight Leg Raise
Begin in a seated position. Sit back in a supportive dining chair or similar, with your feet flat on the floor. Gently raise and straighten one leg, so that it’s right out in front of you.
Hold this position for a slow count of 10, then steadily bring your leg back down. Repeat this action 10 times for each leg, then rest.
Over time, you’ll probably find that this stretch becomes less difficult. This is a great sign! If you want to give yourself more of a challenge, try adding ankle weights. Start small, and build your way up. Again, if you have any pain or stiffness from the addition of ankle weights, stop and rest, then when you do the exercise again, eliminate the weights.
This exercise also starts from a seated position. Again, choose a chair that is strong and encourages good posture. Your feet should be flat on the floor.
Without using your hands, a table, or any other kind of support, stand up then sit back down. These should not be fast movements; rather, move slowly and carefully in both directions.
Repeat these actions for one minute, then rest. You might wish to have another go at this later in the day. Over time, you’ll find that the number of sit/stands you can complete in one-minute increases. This shows good progress! To bring in a greater challenge, try using a lower chair or start from the bottom steps of your staircase.
However, if you don’t find that your speed increases, please don’t be discouraged. As long as you are maintaining the gentle, deliberate form, you will continue to strengthen your knee. This isn’t a race!
3: Leg Stretch
This exercise begins on the floor. Choose an area next to a wall or sofa; somewhere you can place your back against.
Place both legs straight out in front of you. Move your back against the wall or sofa and keep good posture.
Gently bend one of your legs towards you until you feel a noticeable – but not uncomfortable – stretch. Hold this position for five seconds.
Then, straighten your leg back out and hold for 5 seconds. Repeat this motion 10 times for each leg.
4: Knee Squats
You might read the word ‘squat’ and immediately hear alarm bells ringing! Don’t worry, we wouldn’t advise an exercise that could further damage your knee. These aren’t the deep, weightlifting squats that have become popular amongst gym enthusiasts. Rather, a controlled and safe squat that can develop the strength in your knee area.
Start by taking a sturdy chair and placing it in front of you. Using the chair for support, slowly begin to squat. Ideally, your kneecap should cover your big toe when you look straight down, but if you can’t manage this initially, please don’t push yourself too far! In time, you may be able to move further down and squat deeper, but for some people, this won’t be possible, and that’s perfectly fine. Never bend your knees beyond a right ankle.
Repeat each squat ten times, then rest. This is an exercise you can complete several times a day, but if you do begin to experience pain, always stop. This is a process that can take time; a sensible approach allows you to move at your own pace.
Many people with knee pain struggle to use the stairs, as the action of walking up and down them can put substantial pressure on the joint.
Although stairs can be tricky, they can be a useful tool to help your rehabilitation. Find a study set of stairs that aren’t too steep and stand directly in front of them. Begin the exercise by taking your right foot and stepping onto the first step. Move your left foot up to the step. Then, step down with the right foot, followed by the left.
Repeat for one minute, then switch the order around; step up with the left foot first instead of right. Repeat for a further minute.
Again, this is an exercise you can do several times a day. Watch out for signs of strain and build up your strength slowly.
6: Straight Leg Raise
This exercise takes place on the floor, and we’d recommend placing a towel or yoga mat underneath you, for a bit of extra support and comfort.
Lie down with your legs flat. Bend one leg at the knee, then slowly lift the other leg up – only slightly – from the floor. The leg should remain straight. Hold this position for five seconds, then slowly return to the floor. Repeat five times for each leg.
This exercise can also be done from your bed if you struggle to get onto the floor or to stand up again. Make sure that your body is completely flat to get the right stretch.
We hope these exercises are helpful for you. Remember to stretch within your means, and don’t push yourself too far. Good luck!