Simple (But Effective) Exercises to Strengthen Your Knees
The knee is the largest joint in the body and one that we rely on nearly every moment of every day to keep us mobile. This can place a lot of strain and daily wear and tear on them, making them easily susceptible to injury. Even so, our knees are often overlooked when it comes to our daily exercise routines, which tend to focus on burning calories, strengthening the core, and toning arm and leg muscles – all while putting additional strain on the knees. And, once one or both of your knees sustain and injury, it can be difficult and time-consuming to correct. That’s why we are sharing some of our favorite exercises here that are simple, yet effective, for strengthening your knees to help prevent injuries.
Before we dive in, it is important to note that you should always check with your doctor or a medical professional before trying these exercises or starting any new type of physical routine. If you are currently experiencing knee pain or are recovering from injury or medical treatment, please do not attempt any of these exercises before consulting with a physician.
Warm Up with Leg Lifts. It’s always important to warm up before diving into the tougher stuff! Start by lying down on the floor, preferably on an exercise mat or towel. Keep your right leg extended straight on the floor while bending your left leg towards you at the knee, moving your foot closer to your body. Tighten your core by pulling your muscles towards the floor until your lower back is firmly on the ground. Next, slowly lift your right leg without bending your knee until it is at the same height as your left knee. For an extra challenge, lift your hips off the ground, using your arms and hands to prop yourself up. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then slowly lower the leg with control to the ground. Repeat 2-3 times, then complete the sequence with the opposite leg.
Squats or Jump Squats. Now, it’s time to get moving! There are two ways to do this exercise, depending on your comfort level and your current knee strength. For beginners, we suggest starting with still squats. Spread your feet hip-distance apart and stand straight, imagining that someone is pulling a string from your head to the ceiling. Extend your arms out in front of you and squat down from your knees, extending your backside out behind you to create a flat back. Slowly rise up, again imagining that string pulling from your head to the ceiling. Repeat 10-15 times to start, and then you can increase repetitions over time. For those who are more advanced, you can add a jump in by jumping up from your squat back into standing position, being sure to maintain a straight back and bending your knees upon landing.
Walking Lunge. Start by standing straight in a normal, comfortable stance. Step forward with your right foot and lunge down, being sure to keep your back straight and again imagining that string from your head to the ceiling. Next, step forward with your back leg to move ahead, now lunging with your left leg. Continue the sequence 10-15 times, increasing repetitions as you build up strength. Remember, you don’t have to walk in a straight line if your surroundings don’t allow it; you can walk in a circle or however your space allows you to keep moving!
Chair Dips. Grab a sturdy, high backed chair and stand in front of it, with your back facing the chair. Place your hands on the chair for balance and bend both knees, being sure not to extend them past your toes. Once you feel steady, extend your right leg to a 90-degree angle, hold for 5 seconds, then slowly lower it back to the ground. Use the chair to slowly move back up. Repeat, only this time raising your left leg. You can repeat this sequence 5-10 times.
Hamstring Curls. This low impact move is a great way to finish your knee strengthening routine. Stand straight with your knees no more than 2 inches apart. If needed, use a chair or table for balance. Slowly bend your right knee behind your body to lift your feet of the floor to reach a 90-degree angle. Keep your left leg slightly bent for comfort. Hold your right leg up for 5-10 seconds and then slowly lower it back to the floor. Switch sides, repeat, then repeat the entire sequence 5-10 times.
While these are great, simple exercises for knee strength, one size does not fit all when it comes to exercise. If you are looking to customize your knee workout based on your experience level, or if you are recovering from a specific injury, you can create a customized routine using some of the suggestions here.
Remember to listen to your body as you work on strengthening your knees and start slow, building up your strength over time. And, if you need a little help with your post-workout recovery, our topical recovery cream can help. Made with broad spectrum hemp extract and the relief potential of arnica and natural menthol, our luxurious cream can help soothe aching muscles* while also helping to moisturize your skin – and all with the amazing scents of eucalyptus and lavender!
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