The knee is the biggest and most used joint in the body. Almost your entire body weight is spread out between two of them, and that comes with wear and tear over the years. Your best bet in keeping your knees functioning their best for decades to come is to work on strengthening them with some simple exercises you can do at home. They don’t require any equipment or even much time. Some exercises can also be used to relieve some types of knee pain. If you have recurring pain or it doesn’t go away within a month using the RICE method, it would be advisable to seek advice from an expert.
There are many muscles that make up and support the knee. They keep your kneecap in place, flex it, and keep it stable while performing lateral movements. They are key to protecting it and extending its life. Artificial knees are common and have improved greatly, but it is ideal to keep the ones you were born with as long as you can! You will see pictures of athletes with bulging muscles surrounding their knees and thighs. This isn’t just because their job requires them to be strong, but the muscles also do a job to protect the knee and absorb the shock of running and jumping. Here are some easy exercises to do at home to keep your knees in good condition.
Laying down on your back, bend one leg at a ninety-degree angle with the foot on the floor. Keep the other leg straight and raise it up so that it is in line with your bent leg. Then slowly lower it until your heel just touches the ground, then raise it back up again. Do this for a total of 10 reps for each leg.
Side Leg Lifts
To work on lateral knee stability, use side leg lifts. While laying on your side, legs stacked on each other as if you were going to go into a side plank, lift the top leg about two feet above the bottom, and slowly lower it back down. To make this movement more difficult, use a resistance band around the knee or ankle.
Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, with your arms out, slowly lower yourself into a seated position, just higher than you would be if you were about to sit on a chair. Be sure to keep your knees in-line with or behind your toes to avoid putting a strain on your ligaments.
Stretching should be combined with exercises for the best results. Stretching muscles around the knee keep them pliable and less susceptible to tearing and ripping. Here are some good ones to start with.
Standing Quad Stretch
This is the largest muscle in the body and is one you don’t want to injure. In a standing position, bend one leg back at the knee until you can grab the foot and hold it for 30 seconds each. This can also be done dynamically by only holding each foot for a two count. If your balance is a challenge for you, hold onto a chair or wall.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
To complement the quad stretch, also stretch the hamstring on the back of the leg. While standing, simply reach down and try to touch your toes with straight legs. Don’t bounce or go so far as to cause pain. This is a classic that can improve mobility.
As you may know, the knee is an important component for daily activities and any pain or arthritis is sure to cause discomfort. Try to delay or improve current pain with some of these easy exercises and stretches. But, if your pain doesn’t resolve quickly or the pains worsen, be sure to seek medical advice as soon as possible.