If you have knee problems, the last thing you likely want to think about is exercising. Simple exercises in the form of gentle stretches can be tremendously beneficial, however, as they help improve flexibility and keep muscles loose. Stiff, unused muscles are more likely to be injured as soon as you exercise, whether you’re working out or walking for the paper.
There are several easy exercises you can perform on a regular basis to help limber up your knees and avoid those aches and pains caused by too much walking or just sitting a bit funny. Here’s what you need to know to stretch and strengthen your knees.
Consult a doctor first
Physiotherapists are tremendously helpful when recovering from bad knees or just trying to avoid future problems. They can give you a custom list of exercises based on your strong and weak knee muscles so you know what to focus on, and they can help you gently scale up the exercises until you’re back to normal.
Alternate types of exercise
There are three main types of exercise you should be performing: range-of-motion, strengthening, and aerobic. Don’t focus for too long on any one type of exercise, or you risk injuring yourself. By alternating different exercises, you ensure that all the muscles in and surrounding the knee are worked at one time or another.
An easy range-of-motion exercise to start with is the knee extension. Stretch your leg out along a floor or bed, then place a rolled-up towel under your heel. Let your knee relax and gravity work to help your knee straighten slowly. Do your best to lift your heel and straighten your knee all the way, but stop if it begins to hurt. Do several repetitions of this exercise on each side every day until you begin to see your range of motion improve.
To help strengthen your knees, lie flat on your back on a bed or on the floor, then gently lift one leg off the bed a few inches. You should feel the strain in the muscles around your knee, not primarily in your back. Hold for three to five seconds, then lower and repeat on the other side. Perform several repetitions of this exercise, stopping if you feel excessive pain, until you can hold it for ten seconds, lift your leg higher, or do more repetitions.
Having bad knees doesn’t have to mean being side-lined from all forms of aerobic exercise. Avoid jogging or running, but you can try speed-walking on flat, gentle surfaces, dance classes, an elliptical trainer instead of a treadmill, or even swimming. If you perform gym routines, skip the squats and try partial squats instead. Moderate aerobic exercise two to four times a week can help your knees become stronger and more flexible. Exercising to deal with knee problems is actually effective, as long as you take it slowly and don’t push through pain. You should be able to improve your flexibility and strength, thus helping you heal from past knee problems or prevent future knee pain. Andrew Huang is an amateur speed skater who has recently been experiencing some Knee problems. He enjoys sharing his insights on dealing with knee pain by blogging for health and fitness websites.