Seven Knee Exercises to Improve Strength

I talked about Knee arthritis in detail in my previous article.   Today, I want to discuss important knee exercises.  The aim of exercises for arthritis is mainly to ease the (knee) pain and increase muscle strength.   If the muscles surrounding a joint are strong than your joints are protected and well cushioned. A person is less likely to put more force on a joint when he or she has strong muscles. This is not only true for knee arthritis but works similarly for pain, tendon or ligaments tear, any post and pre-operative surgery of a joint etc.. Exercise is your answer. Remember, there are thousands (not literally of course) different exercises you can do for knee and there are a million modifications (again no literally) can be made in positions, adding weight or not, making it more challenging vs not. The aim here is to discuss the most important exercises for the knee. These are kind of your MUST DO to achieve higher strength and reduce pain. So let’s start!!

Quads Sets:

This is the most important knee exercise for arthritis and after knee replacement surgery.

Position: Lie on your back or in long sitting position as shown in the picture. You can do it while standing once you know how to do this exercise and feel comfortable with it.

Knee exercise

Place a rolled towel behind the knee. Try to push down the towel with your kneecap while contracting/tightening quadriceps muscles (thigh muscle). Hold it for 3 to 5 seconds in a pain-free range. Increase the hold to 10 to 15 seconds.

Frequency: Repeat it for 10 to 15 times for 3 to 5 times a day.

Short Arc quads:

Position: In long sitting or lying on back.

Place a rolled towel under the affected knee with the heel touching the floor. Gently lift the heel up while the knee is still touching the rolled towel. Hold it for 3 to 5 seconds. Increase the hold to 10 to 15 seconds. You can also add some ankle weight to increase strength.

Knee exercise

Frequency: 10 repetitions 2 times a day.

Knee Slides/ knee bending exercise:

Position:

This can be done by lying down on the back or sitting up.

Slide your heel towards buttocks in pain-free range and gradually slide it out or straighten the knee. You can use a ball for assistance in the beginning if you need to.

Knee exercise

Frequency:

Repeat it for 10 repetitions, twice a day. You can progress to sitting position and gradually start adding some ankle weights for strengthening. Make sure you don’t lean forward or sideways if you are doing this in sitting.

Straight Leg Raise:

Position: Lying on back or standing (you can have a support of a chair or table if you choose to do this while standing).

While lying on your back, bend the unaffected knee and gently lift the leg up. Make sure your knee of affected leg (the one you are lifting in the air) is straight. Lifting it up to 60 to 70 degrees should be fine. Try not to put any pressure on your back or keep an eye out to look for an arching of a back while doing this exercise.

Knee exercise

Hold it for 3 to 5 seconds. Increase the hold to 10 to 15 seconds. You can also add some ankle weight to increase strength.

If you are doing this exercise in standing, kick the leg straight in front without bending at the waist.

Frequency:

Repeat it for 10 times twice a day.

Hip Abduction:

Position: Lying on unaffected side or standing.

Keep the unaffected knee bend, and gently lift the affected leg up with keeping the knee straight. Hold it for 3 to 5 seconds. Increase the hold to 10 to 15 seconds. You can also add some ankle weight to increase strength.

Knee exercise

 

Frequency: 10 repetitions 2 times a day.

If you are doing this exercise in standing, kick the leg sideways without bending it sideways or forward at the waist.

Gluteal Sets:

There are several ways to do this exercise. It is also called isometric of gluts. I am going to talk about the way I like to do this exercise.

Lying down on your back, put a rolled towel under your affected heel, try to push down the towel while squeezing the buttocks. Hold it for 5 seconds without holding your breath, repeat it 10 times twice a day.

Knee exercise

The other method of doing this exercise is while standing. As shown in the picture, bend your unaffected leg and push it into the wall while squeezing your buttock of the opposite leg. Hold it for 3 to 5 seconds and repeat it for 10 times twice a day. Remember, all exercise should be done in a pain-free range.

Knee exercise

Knee Extension exercise:

Position: while sitting upright in the chair, keep the affected leg out and in front as to bring the knee in a straight position in a pain-free range.

Hold it for 3 seconds, and repeat it for 10 times twice a day.

Make sure you don’t lean backwards or sideways while doing this exercise. Remember not to hold your breath. The best way for me to not hold my breathing is count out loud while exercising. Try that it may work for you too!!

knee extension exercise

Make sure you don’t lean backwards or sideways while doing this exercise. Remember not to hold your breath. The best way for me to not hold my breathing is count out loud while exercising. Try that it may work for you too!!

Bonus: Bridging exercise:

I included this as a bonus exercise! I love bridging exercises. It works on many muscle groups at the same time giving many benefits.

Lie down on your back. Bend both knees, hands on the side in relaxed position. Gently lift your pelvis area up while pushing down with your heels. Hold it for 3 seconds if you can. Repeat if for 10 times twice a day.

Knee exercise - Bridging

Conclusion:

This is a general guidelines for exercises to increase the strength of knee muscles. It is very useful for patients suffering from OA of knee and hip. This is also  beneficial for patients recovering from replacement or repair surgeries. A clinician may choose to modify an exercise in million (of course an exaggerated number 🙂 ) ways to make is comfortable for the patient and to achieve a desirable result. Also depending on strength of a patient and pain level, you may choose to use gravity in favor or work against it. It is nothing but the position you chose to exercise in. So make sure to ask a clinician or comment below with any questions you have. I am going to mention stretching exercises in my next article. Have fun being strong physically and of course mentally!!

Hope to talk soon with another effective topic 🙂

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NOTE: The contents of this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, dietary supplement, exercise, or other health program.