5 Ways to Strengthen Your Knees


Perhaps the most common question I receive from patients is, ”I can’t exercise because of knee arthritis. What do I do?” Over 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 suffer from knee arthritis. This can make exercising more challenging. As a result, many people with knee pain from arthritis just stop exercising. This can lead to obesity, loss of muscle tone, worsening of the arthritis and depression. You heard that right–exercise improves knee arthritis, and lack of exercise makes it worse!  If you have knee arthritis, there are some moves you may wish to avoid until your symptoms improve:

  • Bending  the knee while bearing weight
  • Flexing the knee past ninety degrees
  • Stressing the ligaments by leaping from side to side

If the above moves cause you discomfort, below are some alternative exercises that will move the knee joint safely while strengthening all the supporting muscles. You will want to be on the floor for most of these exercises, so take your time getting down and back up again. Use a thick rug or exercise mat for comfort. If you have a firm mattress, you can even do some of these moves in bed.

Warm up for two minutes by marching in place. This will get all the leg muscles warmed up and will begin to move the knee through a gentle range of motion.

1) Straight Leg Raise
straight_leg_raise

Now, gently lay down on your back with your hips flexed and knees bent almost to ninety degrees. Straighten one leg at a time, making a straight line between the thigh and the lower leg. Set the foot back down and alternate with the other leg. Repeat this 30 times with each leg. This strengthens the quad muscles in the front of your thigh.