Almost all of us have experienced knee pain and stiffness, be it temporary or chronic. Knee pain can be caused due to various reasons ranging from sudden injury, arthritis, osteoporosis or excessive use or overuse of muscles. But you will be surprised to know that most chronic knee pain is avoidable. All you need to do it incorporate some stretching and strengthening exercises in your workout regime that support the knees. Protecting your knees now will help you to enjoy an active and pain-free life in future.
5 Useful Exercise Tips to Ease Knee Pain
You need to be particularly careful about your exercises and workouts if you are suffering from knee pain. Working and strengthening a specific group of leg and hip muscles can prevent the knee pain from worsening.
Stretch the muscles that support the knees
The next important step to reduce knee pain is to stretch and work the muscles that support the knees. It is important to stretch the hamstrings and hip adductors along with the glutes maximus to avoid muscle imbalances and knee pain.
Strengthen the buttocks
Research shows that knee injuries and knee pain including Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) tears occur due to weak hip muscles, and it can also lead to other cartilage tears as well as the development of arthritis later in life. So, it is important to strengthen the main hips muscles – the glutes maximus.
Maintain healthy weight
Carrying extra pounds puts excess pressure on the joints and lead to knee pain. Losing a minimum of 5 percent of body weight can help relieve stress on the knees and reduce knee pain.
Work the core muscles
Weakness of the abdominal muscles can also promote the pelvis to tilt forward which causes the knees and legs to roll in towards the midline of the body. So, strengthening the core helps to keep the spine in a neutral position and places the knees in the best possible position for movement without causing joint compression.
Opt for Low-Impact Exercises
People who have undergone knee surgery or are suffering from severe knee pain should opt for low-impact exercises like walking and swimming that puts minimal pressure on the knees. High-impact exercises like running and jumping can worsen knee pain.
12 Effective Exercises for Knee Pain Relief
Knee pain and stiffness is a common problem among people of all ages, and it affects even the best athletes and runners. So, here are 12 useful bodyweight training exercises and stretches for relieving knee pain.
Wall Calf Stretch
One of the most neglected parts of the leg are the calf muscles that are not worked thoroughly with your stretching efforts. But working and toning the calf is important for runners and sprints because calves can be extremely tight and the pain in the calves may travel up to the knees. The wall calf stretch is one of the best knee pain exercises for runners.
Stand straight facing a wall, flex your right foot and position your heel right where the floor meets the vertical surface of the wall. Keep your toes elevated and the heel placed on the floor. Now, lean forward toward your front leg and hold the stretch for 5 seconds at the deepest point and release the stretch. Repeat the same stretch with your left leg. Target 15 repetitions on each leg.
Half-Kneel Hip and Quad Stretch
This particular leg stretch works amazingly for knee pain relief, and it works the hip and quadriceps at the same time. You will need an exercise mat or towel for this exercise.
Kneel down on one knee on a towel or exercise mat with the other foot placed flat on the ground in front of you. Grab the ankle of your leg raised behind you and pull it towards your hip while you lean forward towards the front leg. This compound posture provides an intense hamstring, hip and knee stretch. Repeat the stretch 15 times on one leg and then switch legs.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
The hamstring muscles affect the knees in more ways than we know, and a troubled hamstring can be a major source of discomfort and pain in the knees. This is one of the uncomplicated exercises to relieve knee pain that can be done by almost anyone.
Lie face up on the floor with your left leg placed flat on the floor and the right leg propped up on a table or a wall. You can also include a resistance band to stretch your raised leg. Stretch your right leg as much as you can, feel the stretch so that it begins in the knee and radiates down the back of the leg. Stay in this position for 5 seconds by contracting and relaxing the right foot alternately. Aim for 15 repetitions on both legs.
Calf Smash With Lacrosse Ball
A lacrosse ball can be used in several ways to treat sore muscles and joints. This is one of the best exercises for knee pain that relieves the tension in both calf and hamstrings.
Sit on the floor with your right knee bent and the right foot close to your butt. Place a lacrosse ball between the calf and hamstring of your right knee and create a compression force by pulling the shin towards you. Rotate the foot in alternating circular movements to create some space in your knee joint. Continue for 5 to 6 minutes and then repeat with the other leg.
Quad Foam Roller Stretch
This is one of the effective foam roller exercises for knee pain that stretches the quadriceps that remain under constant tension from prolonged sitting every day. Stretching the quadriceps also helps to ease the tightness and stiffness in the knees.
Life facedown with a foam roller placed under the right leg, right under the thigh. Put your body weight on your right leg and roll slowly from side to side and up and down, focusing the pressure on the tight spots of the knees. Do it for at least 5 minutes and then switch legs.
Straight Leg Raise
The simple leg raise exercise is the best solution to the question of how to treat knee pain. It is an easy leg strengthening exercise that puts absolutely no strain on the knees but strengthens the knees and activates the quadriceps.
Lie face up on the floor with the towel placed underneath your head. Keep one knee bent and the foot placed flat on the floor and lift the other leg up 1 foot from the floor keeping it straight. Rotate the raised leg outward 15 times and then switch legs.
Squat is an amazing body weight exercise that is included in almost all training sessions. But a basic full squat can be difficult for those with knee pain and it can put more stress on the knees. The partial squat is an effective answer to the question of how to cure knee pain. This exercise strengthens the knees, and it can be done by people of all ages.
Stand about 12 inches away from the seat of a chair with your feet placed hip-width apart and your toes positioned forward. Slowly lower your back halfway down to the chair by bending at the hips. Stay in this posture for a few seconds keeping your abs tight and then return to the starting position. Aim for 15 to 20 repetitions at one time.
Although, step up may look like a simple and modest exercise, but it is a powerful unilateral exercise to increase overall leg strength. It empowers the knees, claves, quads and hamstrings and also relieves lower back pain.
Stand in front of a stair or an aerobic step bench, step up on the step with your right foot, tap your left foot on the top of the step and then lower it down. Repeat the movement with the left foot. Be careful that your knee stays directly over your ankle as you step up. Repeat with alternate legs 20 to 30 times.
Calf raises are an easy and simple workout for toning and strengthening the calves but how to relieve knee pain with calf raises? Well, it is a strength training exercise that improves muscular strength, improves stability and joint flexibility of the knees and ankles and gives definition to the lower legs.
Stand behind the back of a chair with your feet placed hip-width apart and toes pointed straight ahead. Gradually lift your heels off the ground, rising on your toes, hold the position for a few seconds and then slowly lower back down. Do 20 repetitions at one stretch.
Quadriceps sets might look like a trivial exercise that gives no results but in reality it is an essential exercise that is suggested after hip or knee surgery to strengthen the quad muscles that are essential for walking. This exercise helps to improve the range of motion by contracting and flexing the quad muscles.
Lie down or sit on the floor with your left knee bent and left foot placed on the floor. Keep your right leg stretched out in front of you with a towel rolled and placed under the right knee. Now, push your right knee down into the towel by tightening your thigh. Hold the pressure for 5 seconds and then release. Aim for 10 to 15 repetitions on the right leg then switch legs.
Static Leg Cross
The leg cross is a low-impact leg exercise that is prescribed for reducing knee stiffness and knee pain caused by osteoarthritis. It is an easy to do exercise that can be performed by people of all ages. It requires no sitting on the floor or using weight or equipment.
Sit on the edge of your bed or a table with your ankles crossed over. Try to push your front leg backward and back leg forwards against each other till the thigh muscles become tense. Hold the position for 5 seconds and then relax. Switch legs and repeat. Aim for 15 to 20 repetitions in one go.
ITB (Iliotobial band) Stretch
The Iliotobial band is a think band of tissues that runs from the pelvis to the knees. The tightness of the ITB can lead to changes in the natural movement of the knee leading to knee pain. Pain in knees caused by Iliotobial Band Syndrome is common in long distance runners. Here is an effective ITB stretch exercise that works the thick fibrous muscle band.
Stand straight in front of a wall with your right leg behind your left leg, keeping both feet placed on the ground. Tilt to your left side and push the right hip outwards. This will help to stretch your right ITB. Repeat the same movement by switching leg to stretch the left ITB. Don’t bend forward or stick out your buttocks during the exercise.
So, prepare for a speedy recovery after a knee surgery or knee injury by doing these 12 potent knee pain exercises on a daily basis.