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Exercises to strengthen the knee

Woman doing bridging exerciseMost individuals will have some degree of knee pain throughout their life, which is why it is one of the most commonly treated body parts in physical therapy. The knee joint is actually made up of three different bones: your thigh (femur), shin (tibia), and the knee cap (patella).

The patella needs to move up and down in the small grove of the femur as you bend and straighten your knee. When you have weakness in the muscles around the knee, specifically the quadriceps, it can cause rubbing of the patella and therefore pain in the knee.

Here are three easy exercises that can help to strengthen the quadriceps and muscles around the knee to help give support and hopefully keep pain away!

Bridging: this is a great exercise to strength your gluts and slightly your quadriceps without irritating the knee. Start by lying on your back with your knees bent to a comfortable position. Next, lift your buttocks and squeeze your gluts as you lift. Perform 3 repetitions, trying to hold for 30-60 seconds

Straight leg raise: This is an endurance exercise for the quadriceps and also works the hip flexors. Start with the knee straight and squeeze your thigh muscle (quad) to keep the knee as straight as possible. Next, lift the leg up six inches and hold 30-60 second, repeat 3 repetitions.

Wall sits: This exercise should be done with caution if you are experiencing knee pain since it can cause irritation in the knee if done incorrectly. Start with your back against a sturdy door or wall and your feet at least two foot lengths away from the wall so your knee is directly above your heel. Then slide down the wall so the knees are around a 90 degree angle, and hold this position. Perform 3 repetitions of 30-60 second holds.

Strengthening exercises should be performed most of days of the week to build muscle, (4-5days/week)

Make sure that none of these exercises increase pain or soreness in your knees. Always consult a medical/exercise professional before starting a new workout routine.

Lukas Mehling PT, DPT