Everyone with knee pain knows how debilitating this can be and how difficult exercise becomes with knee pain. Yet, many are told to exercise because it can improve the pain in the long term.
We are told to exercise but the act of exercising just makes the pain worse making it harder to exercise.
No, your doctor isn’t crazy and it’s not just you.
The key to all this is to take it slowly and do the right type of exercises. Let’s go through some sample exercises you can do that will not only strengthen the knee joint but won’t you leave you a crippled mess on the floor.
First, let’s remember to warm up!
Working up is the most important part of your exercise regimen. You need to loosen the muscles and get some air and blood flowing there. I always recommend doing a stationary bike for 5 minutes on low resistance. You can also take a brisk 2 minute walk while moving and pumping your arms.
Straight Leg Raises
Very simple and just about anyone can do this. Simply lay on the ground, preferably on a mat, and bend one knee while putting the other straight on the ground. Then raise the straight leg up until it gets to the level of our bent knee. This comes through your quadriceps, which are the muscle above your knee in front. I recommend doing 10-15 of these for each leg and 3 sets of exercises. So in total, 6 sets of 10-15 when you combine both legs.
Sometimes known as hamstring curls. This exercise strengthens your hamstring muscles which sit on the back of the leg above the knee. They are the opposite muscle to your quads. Hold on to a chair while you do these standing up. While holding on, simply raise on leg behind you trying to touch your butt muscle using your heel. Keep the knee stationary. All the motion is through the bottom of the leg below the knee. Think of it as kicking your own ass. Once again, 3 sets of 10-15 per leg. Once you get stronger, you can even add ankle weights.
Prone Straight Leg Raises
Now we are starting to get just a tiny bit more difficult but it will be worth it. You simply lay on the ground on your stomach. Make sure your legs are straight. Simply squeeze through your butt and lift one leg toward the sky, making sure not to feel any back pain. If you do, don’t go as high and if that doesn’t help, stop doing this exercise. The key to this exercise is to hold it at the top and squeeze your butt doing it. This works the butt muscles. Once again, 3 sets of 10-15 on each leg.
These are very simple but you need to support yourself using your hands in some way. So make sure you hold onto something to support your weight while you do these. Very simply raise your feet keeping your toes on the ground. Basically just raising your heels and feeling those calf muscles work. Another 3 sets of 10-15. Do this one with both legs at the same time.
Now we are getting into advanced territory (and the gym). If you can’t finish the above exercises don’t do this one yet. But once you have mastered the previous exercises and want something to push yourself, this is an ideal exercise.
Start out slow! Don’t put a lot of weight on this before you know what your body is capable of. Once you know a decent weight you can do, simply lay back on the machine and put your feet flat on the foot plate. Slowly push the plate away from you until your legs are extended. Bend your knees and return to your starting position. Do 3 sets of 10-15 once again. Remember not to push yourself too much and ask the gym staff for help the first time you do this exercise.
Swim Swim Swim
Our last exercise will not only strengthen your knee joints but will also help burn those calories. Cardio cardio cardio and nothing beats swimming for those with knee pain. Freestyle swimming is ideal so long as your knees are strong enough to be able to handle it. Take it slow and easy at first but once you do, hit that pool. Swimming is not only low impact on those joints but also great exercise all around. It can even help you lose weight which can further decrease your knee pain.
So let’s get on with the exercise regimen folks. It’s good for you and be sure to check out our other fitness posts. But always remember to ask your doctor before starting any exercise routine.