The knees play a crucial role in all aspects of movement, not only during our workouts, but also in our daily routines. So when you suffer from knee pain, it can be really debilitating. Many people move incorrectly in and out of the gym, which can lead to knee injuries or knee pain. And with knee injuries or weak knees, it can be hard to do even simple movements like walking.
Many Start TODAY members complain that knee pain inhibits their walking routine. I know how frustrating it can be to feel sidelined by pain when you’re otherwise motivated to exercise!
Luckily, there are exercises you can do at home to strengthen your knees and reduce pain. Strengthening your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and calves is essential, as each of these muscles supports the knee joint. From arthritis to injuries that have occurred from sports-related activities, movements that tone the muscles around the knee joint are the best way to not only strengthen your knees, but also prevent future injuries.
straight leg raises
This simple exercise to strengthen your knees is the perfect starter exercise. It activates the quadriceps, which stabilize the knee joint during movement. To start, lie on your back. Bring one leg by bending the knee and resting the foot on the ground. The other leg should be kept straight in front of you. Keeping your bent leg still, raise your straight leg to the height of your bent knee. Point your foot and engage your quads. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
sit on the wall
Used to build strength in the glutes, quads, and calves, the wall sit is another great knee strengthening exercise. In an open space on a clear wall, sit against the wall and slide down into a squat to form a 90-degree angle with your hips and knees. Keeping your back flat against the wall, hold this position for 10 seconds. Complete three wall seats in total.
Seated Leg Raises
To complete this knee strengthening exercise, start by sitting in a chair with both knees bent. Keeping one foot on the ground, hook the other leg by straightening the leg out in front of you, squeezing the quad and flexing the foot. Then slowly raise your leg until it is parallel to the floor. Pause, then slowly return your leg to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
Standing Hamstring Curl
Using a chair or wall for support, start standing up. Raise one leg and lift it off the floor by bending the knee at a 90-degree angle. Hold the position for two seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
A half squat is a great way to strengthen your glutes, hamstrings, and quads without putting too much pressure on your knees. Start in a standing squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place your hands on your hips or extend your arms in front of you to keep your torso upright. Pull your navel in toward your spine. Squat down slowly to the midpoint of a full squat. Pause to increase muscle tension, then rise back up to a standing position. Repeat 10 times.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart (close to a wall or chair for stability if needed). Lift both heels off the ground to stand on the balls of your feet. Slowly return to standing position. Repeat 10 times.
lateral leg raises
Lie on your side on a flat surface. Both legs should be straight, stacked on top of each other. Raise your top leg as high as you feel comfortable; pause at the top. Slowly lower your leg to return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then flip to the other side and switch legs.
prone leg raises
Lie face down on a flat surface. Rest your head on your forearms with both legs stretched out behind you. Starting with one leg, engage your hamstrings and glutes to lift your leg as high as you comfortably can. Then slowly return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times and then switch legs.
Lie on your back on a flat surface. Pull your knees in toward your body to a comfortable bent position with both feet flat on the floor. Pressing through your heels, lift your lower, mid, and upper back off the ground to lift your glutes off the ground. Pull in your abs to support your lower back. In the top position, squeeze your glutes before slowly returning to the starting position. Repeat 10 times.