Did you know that strengthening the muscles around the knee joint may be as effective as using pain relievers such as NSAIDs to control arthritic knee pain? And you don’t have to worry about the side effects that come with regular medication use.
Strong knee muscles can stabilize the knee and are better able to absorb the shock caused by weight-bearing activities such as walking, running and jumping. A stable and well-supported knee will undergo less wear and tear with routine activities. Here are a few exercises that can strengthen your knee:
Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly bend the knees as if you are going to sit on a chair, stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor, and slowly stand up again. Keep your back straight and engage your core muscles throughout the movement. This is a good multipurpose exercise that strengthens your quads, hamstrings, and buttocks.
Seated leg raise (Knee Extension): Sit on a high chair with your knee bent and feet dangling in front of you. Place a pillow or cushion on the seat if necessary, to ensure your feet don’t touch the floor. Slowly extend one leg until it is parallel to the floor. Hold this position for a few seconds then lower it. Repeat the movement with the other leg. You can use ankle weights or a leg extension machine in the gym to increase the intensity of the exercise.
Hamstring curls (Knee Flexion):From a standing position, holding on to a chair or wall for balance, flex one knee so that your foot comes up behind you bringing you heel close to your buttocks. Hold the position for a few seconds and then lower the leg. As with the seated leg raise, this movement can also be performed with ankle weights or on a leg extension machine. The exercise develops the hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh.
Heel and toe raises: From a standing position, raise your heels off the floor such that your weight is supported only on the balls of your feet. Hold for a few seconds then lower your heels to touch the floor. Now raise your toes and the front part of your foot off the floor such that your weight is now entirely on your heels. Hold for a few seconds and return to the normal standing position.
Perform about 3 sets of 10 repetitions of each exercise or as many as you are able to do while maintaining proper form. In just a few weeks you should be able to notice improvements in knee function – being able to bend your knee further than before, getting out of a chair easily, walking longer distances, and getting in and out of a vehicle with less difficulty.
Before starting a new exercise program, it is a good idea to consult your doctor or an orthopedic physician, especially if you have arthritis or some other medical condition.
Dr. Frisch is a specialist orthopedic surgeon focusing on minimally invasive hip and knee joint replacement as well as regenerative treatments for enhanced healing. He believes in creating a very personalized experience with the highest level of service. For all appointments & inquiries, please contact our offices located in Rochester, River District, and Tawas City, MI.