Are your knees starting to give you grief? Or has that been the situation for a while, yet your doctor wants you to put up with the pain for longer before considering surgery? These simple strengthening exercises might help, but get medical approval first.
It’s important to strengthen the muscles that support your knee and keep them flexible. Start slowly and build up over time. Talk to your doctor or healthcare professional about which specific exercises might best for you.
1. Warm up first
You could ride a stationary bike for about five minutes or take a short walk, pumping your arms if you can. This will help you get more out of your exercises, and reduce your risk of injury.
2. Straight leg raises
Start with a simple strengthening exercise for your quadriceps, the muscles in the front of the thigh. This move puts little to no strain on the knee. Lie on your back on the floor or another flat surface. Bend one knee and place your foot flat on the floor. Keeping the other leg straight, or slightly bent, raise it to the height of the opposite knee. Repeat 5–10 times on each side.
3. Hamstring curls
These are the muscles along the back of your thigh. Hold onto a chair and lift one leg at a time until your upper leg is parallel with the floor – if you can. Repeat 5–10 times each side.
4. Calf raises
Stand facing the back of a sturdy chair. You can also do this on the stairs, holding on to the banister with your heels hanging off the edge of the step. Slowly raise the heels as high as you can, then lower. Do three sets of 10–15.
Place one foot on the lowest step of a staircase. Keeping your pelvis level, bend your knee and slowly lower the opposite foot to the floor. Lightly touch your toe to the floor, then rise back up. Repeat 10–15 times, then switch legs.
6. Side leg raises
Lie on one side with your legs stacked. Bend the bottom leg for support. Straighten the top leg and raise it to 45 degrees. Hold for 5 seconds, lower and relax briefly. Repeat 10–15 times. Switch sides and start over.
Because gentle is good, swimming and water aerobics can be great options when knees are a problem.
Always remember though that exercise should never cause pain or make it worse. Muscle soreness after a workout is normal, but sharp, shooting or sudden pain in the muscles or joints means you should stop and check with your doctor.
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Have you had knee problems? Have you found a particular exercise has helped? Have any vitamins helped?