The knees play a crucial role in all aspects of movement—not just during workouts, but in our daily routines as well. So when you have knee pain, it can be really debilitating. Many people move inappropriately in and out of the gym, which can lead to knee injuries or knee pain. And with knee injuries or weak knees, even simple movements like walking can be difficult.
Several Start TODAY members complain of knee pain that prevents their walking routine. I know how frustrating the pain of being sidelined can be when you’re excited about your workout!
Fortunately, there are exercises you can do at home to strengthen your knees and reduce pain. Strengthening the gluteal muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves is essential because each of these muscles supports the knee joint. From arthritis to injuries sustained from sports-related activities, movements that strengthen the muscles around the knee joint are the best way to not only strengthen the knees, but to prevent any further injuries.
Straight leg raises
This easy knee-strengthening exercise is the perfect exercise to get you started. It engages the quadriceps muscles, which stabilize the knee joint during the movement. To start, lie on your back. Bring one leg in by bending the knee and placing your foot flat on the floor. The other leg should be kept straight in front of you. While maintaining leg flexion, raise the straight leg to the height of the bent knee. Point with the foot and press the quad. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
Used to build endurance in your glutes, quadriceps, and calf muscles, this is another great knee-strengthening exercise. In an open space on a clear wall, sit against a wall and lower down into a squatting position until you form a 90-degree angle with your hips and knees. Keeping your back flat against the wall, hold this position for 10 seconds. Three full walls sitting in total.
Seated leg raises
To complete this knee strengthening exercise, start by sitting on a chair with knees bent. Keeping one foot on the ground, engage the other leg by straightening the leg in front of you, squeezing the quad and flexing the foot. Then slowly raise your leg until it is parallel to the ground. Pause, then slowly return the leg to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
Standing hamstring wrap
Using a chair or wall for support, start in a standing position. Pick one leg up and lift it off the floor by bending the knee at a 90-degree angle. Hold for two seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
Half squats are a great way to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps without putting too much pressure on your knees. Start in a squatting position, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your hips or extend your arms straight in front of you to maintain a straight torso. Pull your navy toward your spine. Squat slowly to the midpoint of a full squat. Pause to increase muscle tension, then lift it back up to a standing position. Repeat 10 times.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart (close to a wall or chair for stability if needed). Lift both heels off the ground to stand on the soles of your feet. Slowly return to a standing position. Repeat 10 times.
Side leg raises
Lie on your side on a flat surface. Both legs should be straight and stacked on top of each other. raise the upper leg as far as you feel comfortable; Pause at the top. Slowly lower your leg back to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then flip to the other side and switch legs.
Prone leg raises
Lie face down on a flat surface. Rest your head on your forearms with both legs straight behind you. Start with one leg, engaging your hamstrings and glutes to lift your leg as high as you can comfortably. Then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
Lie on your back on a flat surface. Pull your knees toward your body into a comfortable bent position with both feet on the floor. Press through your heels, peel your low, middle and then upper back off the floor to lift your glutes off the floor. Pull in your abdominal muscles to support your lower back. In the top position, squeeze your glutes before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.