The legs often bear the largest brunt of our physical activities on a day to day basis. The muscles of our legs, especially the knee joints, help the body absorb shock and thus minimize the damage to the body.
Strengthening and conditioning the leg muscles can be the difference between minimizing the progression and effect of arthritis in the knee.
Knee strengthening exercises can help greatly with running, and can help stave off aches in the knee joints.
These exercises help in strengthening all the muscles that support the knee and help in stretching the iliotibial band, also known as the ITB, that runs down the outside of the thigh.
These Knee strengthening exercises can be done as a part of the warm-up or even as a cool down routine after a run or a round of exercise. You can do these exercises indoors or outdoors, whichever is most convenient to you.
The benefits of these exercises become visible as quickly as 2 weeks after starting them and should ideally be done every day. Considering they are low-impact and more akin to stretching doing them every day would not be harmful.
Ideally, you should not feel any pain while doing these exercises. If you feel any sort of pain while doing these exercises, stop immediately and make sure that you consult a doctor.
It should be noted at the outset that these exercises are not suitable for people who are already suffering from an existing knee injury recommended by healthcare.
Straight Leg Raises
If you find that your knees are not at their best possible health, you should begin by strengthening your quadriceps, which are the muscles in the front of your thigh. This exercise does not put any strain on the knee while also making sure that your muscles around the knee are toned.
To do this exercise lie flat on the floor or any other flat surface. Keep one knee bent and place the foot flat on the floor. Make sure that the foot with the bent knee stays flat on the floor, at the same time raise the other leg to the level of the opposite knee. Repeat this movement 10 to 15 times and do about 3 sets of the same for each leg.
Hamstring muscles are crucial for your leg strength. They are the muscles located at the back of your thighs.
To perform this exercise, lie flat on your stomach. Curl your heels and bring them as close to your butt as possible and hold this position for a few seconds. Do about three sets of 15 each, make sure that you are holding this position for a few seconds during each repetition.
This exercise can also be done while you are standing up. Hold on to a chair for support while you bring your heels as close to your posterior as possible. If you find this is becoming too easy you can also try and add ankle weights to the routine.
Prone Straight Leg Raises
This is a great knee strengthening exercise to strengthen not only the muscles in your lower body but also your core.
To do this exercise lie flat on your stomach and keep your legs straight. Tighten the muscles of your bottom and raise your leg to a 45 degree angle.
Hold this pose for about 3 to 5 seconds and repeat. Do about 10 to 15 lifts for each side. As and when your muscles gain strength you can add ankle weights to increase the burn.
One thing to note about this exercise is that you should not be feeling any sign of back pain when doing these exercise. If it is hurting makes sure you stop and consult a doctor at the earliest possible convenience.
These are a more advanced Knee strengthening exercises, but incredibly effective for increasing the strength in your lower body and around your knees.
Keep your feet flat on the floor and stand with your back flat against a wall. Bend your knees slowly while ensuring that your back and pelvis are supported against the wall.
Ensure that your knees are in line with your ankles. Bend your knees till you are almost in a seating posture without anything to support your butt. Hold this pose for 5 to 10 seconds.
Make sure that you are not bending too deeply. If you feel undue pressure on your knees or are uncomfortable, stop immediately. Do at least three repetitions of this exercise and try and extend the amount of time you are able to hold this position every time.
This is another simple exercise which you can do while standing up. Make sure you are standing while facing the back of a sturdy chair, or with the support of the back of a couch or a wall bar at the gym. Raise your heels slowly as high as you can go, hold the posture for a couple of seconds before lowering your heel slowly. Do about three sets of this exercise with 10 to 15 repetitions.
This Knee strengthening exercises are best for your quadriceps and your glutes, and ensures that you strengthen the muscles of your lower body.
This exercise would require a step-bench, coffee table, a platform, or a staircase. Keep your pelvis level to the floor and raise your knee, while keeping it at a 90 degree angle, slowly. Do about 10 to 15 repetitions of the same.
If you are someone who can’t keep their balance too well, make sure that you are surrounded by soft mats. If this exercise gets too easy make sure you use a higher step.
Side Leg Raises
To do this exercise make sure you are lying on your side with your legs stacked one on top of the other. To ensure you are well-supported make sure that you bend your lower leg a little.
Straighten the top leg completely and raise it to an angle of 45 degrees. Hold this pose for 5 seconds and then lower it slowly, relax for a second or two and then repeat. Make sure that you do at least 10 to 15 repetitions of the same for each leg.
It is important to note that Knee strengthening exercises should never cause pain, or make an already existing pain worse. While you may feel a certain amount of muscle burn, but it should never cause a shooting or sudden pain in the muscle or joint. If you feel something like that know that you are doing something wrong. Make sure you consult your doctor or trainer to ensure you are getting the most out of your Knee strengthening exercises routine.