Why is exercise for knee pain so important?
Knee pain can have a huge impact on your everyday life. It is a very common condition for all age groups, whether your the “Gym Bunny”, who trains daily, the weekly runner, or just an somebody who enjoys a casual walk, everybody will experience some form of knee pain throughout their lifespan. Knee pain can impact everybody, and with age can become a prevalent and debilitating condition to have to deal with. Many people with knee pain, especially in the older population will limit their activity. Often the term ‘dodgy knees’ is used as a reason for doing less, but what if there was a way to do more with your ‘dodgy knees’, that is where physical activity or exercise comes in to play. Exercise and physical activity is one of the highest recommended treatment methods for knee pain/dysfunction, increasing the strength and flexibility of the muscles the knee will not only improve your knee health but also your resilience to injury. Other additional benefits will include:
- improving bone health
- improving balance
- increase energy levels
- helping you get a better nights sleep
- improve weight/BMI
The biggest issue for most people is knowing where to start, here at PhysioCare, we can provide a full functional assessment examining exactly where the deficits are and tailoring a specific training regime to your needs based on your ability and goals. If you have an existing knee condition you are aware of it is important to discuss with your GP or Physiotherapist before you commence any programme. Generally exercise will be the best option for treatment and below are a few exercises which can be used as a starting point.
Try these exercises for knee pain
Here are some exercises and stretches you can do to strengthen the knee and its supporting muscle groups. We’ve broken these up between cardio-based activities that focus on low-impact options, and specific strengthening routines.
Consistent cardio exercises not only improve overall health, they can also contribute to reduced knee pain and flexibility. Get going with any of these fun options:
- Walking: This is a simple exercise that you can do pretty much anywhere. It is great for the body and your mood. Try walking around the block or at a local park.
- Yoga: This relaxing hobby can be a great relief from lifting weights at the gym. Not only can it work your whole body, but it also has the added bonus of calming the mind.
- Swimming: You can try laps in the pool or join a water aerobics class. It is a fantastic cardio workout that can help build muscle, and improve breathing and blood pressure.
- Golf: Golf is a fun sport that gets you out in the sunshine and helps work your upper body. If you skip the golf cart, you can also get in a good amount of walking.
2. Wall squats
Begin this exercise for knee pain by standing against a wall with your back and hips touching it. Make sure your feet are hip’s width apart a few feet away from the wall. Then slowly slide down the wall to settle into a sitting position. Hold this for about ten seconds and slowly slide back up the wall. Do this about five times.
Make sure you don’t dip your hips below your knees with this exercise and keep your core tight. Keep your head back and your chin tucked. As you become stronger, try more reps and hold each for 15 seconds, or more.
3. Single leg dip
Grab two identical chairs for this next balance exercise. Place the back of the chairs facing one another. Stand in between the chairs with each hand holding the back of the nearest chair. Lift one leg and slowly lower yourself down, making sure to support your weight on the heel of your foot. Hold this for five seconds and slowly rise back up.
Repeat this exercise on the other foot. Make sure to keep your back straight and avoid slouching forward when you dip. Try increasing your hold time as you get better at this exercise.
4. Standing quad stretch
This is a simple yet very effective exercise for knee pain that focuses on the quadriceps. Stand in front of a wall or chair. Place one hand on the wall to brace yourself and bend your leg back as close as you can to your backside. Reach your non-bracing hand around and grab your foot. Pull your foot until it touches your butt and hold for five seconds. Let go of your foot and slowly return to a standing position.
Repeat this exercise on the other leg. Make sure you keep your legs close together during this stretch. Also, keep your standing knee slightly bent.
5. Leg extension over roller
This exercise for knee pain requires a foam roller, but you can use a soccer ball or a rolled up towel in a pinch. Start by sitting on the ground with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Place the roller under one knee while keeping your other leg slightly bent off the roller. Tighten your thigh muscles to lift your leg up until your leg is fully extended with your toes pointing up. Hold this for five seconds. Then slowly release and bring your foot back to the ground.
Now switch to the other knee. You should do this about six times for each knee and add more reps and sets as you become stronger.