If you have aching knees the best medicine for you is exercise. There are many useful exercises that are helpful to stabilize the joint and to reduce the pain. These exercises strengthen the muscles and ligaments supporting the knee joints and decrease the chances of injury.
When muscles around the knee joint are strong, they reduce the amount of stress on the joints. To get maximum benefit from these exercises, it is imperative to observe the right technique and follow the instructions correctly.
Exercises for People with Bad Knees
1. Warm Ups
Before doing any exercise proper warm up is necessary and this is more important if you have bad knees. When you do warm up exercises before any exercise, the blood to that area improves and the muscle stiffness decreases. These effects make exercise easy and decrease the chances of any injury or muscle sprains.
Before doing any exercises for bad knees, make sure to warm yourself up by doing some brisk walking or static stretches. Around twenty minutes of warm up activity will prepare your knees and your whole body for the more strenuous exercise routines.
Swimming is one of the best exercises for people with bad knees. When you swim, the effect of gravity is taken out of the equation and there are lesser chances of damage to any aching joint.
To strengthen the knees, you can do a few laps of the pool. All swimming styles are good for knees but avoid any style which hurts your knees. Twenty minutes of swimming is enough.
When you ride a bike and cycle, your quadriceps, hamstrings and calve muscles are utilized. Cycling makes the knees more stable and puts very less strain on the joints. It is also a very effective way to loose weight. If you have recently had knee joint surgery, you need to take things slowly.
Do not start to cycle till your, physiotherapist gives you clearance. It is better to cycle on a flat surface or to use the exercise cycles in the gym. To protect the knees from any injury avoid cycling on steep or hilly areas.
During brisk walking, all the muscles of upper and the lower body get a thorough work out. In the list of most effective exercises for people with bad knees, walking holds a significant place. Running, jogging and other high impact activities can put a strain on knees but walking on even ground can be very beneficial for the knees.
If your knee joints are not in a perfect condition, start with a walk and gradually build up muscle strength. After some time you can take hikes and go running.
Step ups strengthen the major muscle groups supporting the knee joints.
- To perform these you need to stand in front of a stair case or you can use a small bench.
- Put one foot on the step and make sure it stays there firmly.
- Then lift the other foot and place it on the step and then again on the floor. Do it for ten times with each foot.
- To add extra resistance you can do some curls with weight while doing the step ups.
6. Partial Squats
It is not recommended to do full squats if your knees are in a bad shape. Partial squats are good because they do not put that much strain on the knees. You can wear a knee support to protect your knees.
- To start, stand with your feet at shoulder width with the toes pointing forwards.
- Now lower your body and go as low as you feel comfortable with. Make sure that your knees are behind your toes during the squat.
- Get back to the resting position and repeat for a few times.
7. Calf Raises
Calf raises are also termed as toe raises and are very effective for the muscles of lower legs.
- To start the exercise, stand comfortably on a flat surface. Make sure you stand straight, and your feet are firmly placed on the ground.
- Now lift your body upwards while standing on your toes. After some time get back to the starting position. Do 20 -25 repeats.
8. Scissor Kick
- To do this exercise lie flat on an exercise mat. Lift your shoulders and legs and make sure they do not touch the ground during the exercise.
- The shoulder should be an inch above the ground, and the legs should be lifted for about six inches.
- Now spread the legs apart as far as you can.
- Bring them closer and cross one over the other. Do not bend your knees.
- And keep your arms on the ground.
- You can gradually increase the number of reps and take them up to 50.
9. Take a Dance Class
A fun way to strengthen the knee joints is to take a dance class. All types of dances are great low impact cardio exercises and are helpful for aching knees. Most of the dance styles are suitable for people with bad knees, and the best part is the initial dance moves are great warm-up exercises, and the whole body gets a workout during a dance routine.
10. Side-Lying Leg Lifts
This is another one of the effective exercises for people with bad knees.
- To do this, you have to lie on your side. Keep your legs together and straight and support your head with your arm.
- If you are lying on your left side, lift your right leg up. Then bring it back and repeat.
- Do the same with the left leg. For maximum benefits wear some ankle weights.
11. Inner Thigh Leg Lifts
To do this exercise, lie on your side and put on some ankle weights above your knee.
- If you are lying on your left side, keep the right leg straight and bend the left leg.
- Then lift the right leg for about six inches. Bring it back and do ten to fifteen repeats.
- Do the same with the left leg.
Exercises to Avoid
There are many useful exercises for people with bad knees, and these can be extremely helpful to strengthen the knee joint. There are some exercises which should be avoided to protect the knee from further damage.
- Skiing, snowboarding, jumping or other high-impact activities are not advised for anyone with a weak knee joint.
- Sports, where there are chances of twisting of the knee, should also be avoided. These include basketball, football, rugby, and tennis.
- Stair climbing exercises can be harmful if not done under supervision.
If you have any knee problem discuss with your physiotherapist about modifying the exercises for maximum benefit and to limit the chances of further injury.