You need to include these 5 knee-strengthening exercises in your workout
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 11, 2023
Do you often feel like your knees are holding you back from living an active and pain-free life? You’re not alone. Our knees play a crucial role in our day-to-day activities, such as walking, standing, and running. However, factors like a sedentary lifestyle or excess weight can weaken our knees over time. That’s why it’s important to incorporate knee-strengthening exercises into our workout routine.
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In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why knee strength is vital and share a list of recommended exercises from Dr. Kruti Khemani, a renowned physiotherapist and founder of Continuum Sports Physiotherapy and Rehab Centre in Mumbai.
Why You Need Stronger Knees
1. Your knees bear a heavy load: The knee is a weight-bearing joint that carries a significant portion of our body weight. For example, when we walk, our knees endure 1.5 times our body weight. This load multiplies to 3 to 4 times when we climb stairs and up to 8 times when we squat. It’s crucial to take care of our knees to prevent wear and tear.
2. Our lifestyle affects our knees: Factors like being overweight, leading a sedentary lifestyle, genetic predisposition to weak bones, and nutritional deficiencies can weaken our knees and make daily activities challenging.
3. Gender differences affect knee health: Studies show that women are more prone to knee pain and degeneration compared to men. Anatomical differences, such as a larger pelvis and the need to bear the weight of a larger lower body, place more stress and instability on women’s knees.
4. Ligament laxity and muscle imbalances: Women tend to have looser ligaments and weaker leg muscles than men. This makes women more susceptible to ligament damage and puts additional strain on their knees.
Now that we understand the importance of knee strength, let’s dive into these five knee-strengthening exercises recommended by Dr. Khemani:
1. Static Quads
Purpose: Strengthen the quadriceps (quad) muscles in the thighs and improve muscle control.
How to perform: Lie flat on your back or sit up with your leg horizontally stretched on a flat surface. Place a rolled-up towel under your knee. Pull your toes towards yourself and clench your thigh muscles. Slowly lift your foot, straightening your knee until it rests on the towel. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then lower your leg back down. Perform 3 sets of 10-20 repetitions daily.
2. Straight Leg Raises at 3 Angles
Purpose: Strengthen the quad muscles without straining the knee.
How to perform: Lie flat on your back. Keep one leg straight and the other bent at the knee. Pull your toes towards yourself and tighten the muscle on the front side of your thigh. Lift your foot about 6 inches off the bed, keeping your knee straight. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then lower your leg. Perform 2 sets of 10-20 repetitions.
3. Knee Extensions
Purpose: Increase knee mobility and prevent stiffness, particularly beneficial for those who sit for extended periods.
How to perform: Sit on a firm chair with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift your feet up and straighten your knees as much as possible. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then slowly lower your legs. Aim for 3 sets of 5-20 repetitions.
4. Clams for Gluteus Medius
Purpose: Strengthen the gluteus muscles to support the knee and prevent excess weight from burdening the inner side of the knee.
How to perform: Lie on your side with your hip and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Keep your feet together and lift the top knee as high as you can without tilting your pelvis. Hold for 3 seconds, then return to the starting position. Complete 2 sets of 10-25 repetitions daily.
5. Heel Raises
Purpose: Strengthen the calf muscles to support the knee during walking and running.
How to perform: Stand with your feet slightly apart, weight evenly distributed on both legs. Hold onto a wall or chair for balance. Raise your heels as high as possible, maintaining an upright position. Hold for 3-5 seconds, then lower your heels. Aim for 2 sets of 10-30 repetitions daily.
Remember, while these exercises can benefit your knee strength and overall fitness, it’s crucial to approach them with caution. Dr. Khemani offers some precautions to keep in mind:
- Consult with your doctor or physiotherapist before starting these exercises, especially if you have any existing biomechanical issues or lower back and feet problems.
- Stop any exercise that causes pain or discomfort. Differentiate between muscle strain and knee pain, and never push your body beyond its limits.
- Pay attention to signs such as clicking, locking, popping, or persistent pain while climbing stairs. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical intervention before focusing on knee-strengthening exercises.
By practicing these knee-strengthening exercises with care, you can improve your knee strength, alleviate pain, and move freely without any limitations.