Many athletes and inactive people as well complain of knee pain. The symptoms and degree of knee pain can vary, but it is surely disturbing for everyone. The good news is that as common as it is, it is not inevitable. Even though the causes vary, there are some exercises that can help everybody prevent knee injury and pain. These exercises are also very useful for people who have already experienced or are experiencing knee pain. The exercises are actually even more recommended for them, since they are obviously prone to knee pain.
The most important thing you can do in order to protect your knee from injury is to strengthen the muscles that support the knee. This way your muscles will be better prepared to adequately support the knee joint or absorb the shock before it causes injury. Another important thing is to increase the flexibility of your muscles. That is why it is recommended to combine strengthening exercises with stretching knee exercises. This way your muscles will be strong, but not too tight, and flexible at the same time.
The main muscle groups that control the knee movement and stability are the quadriceps, which run along the front part of the thigh, and the hamstrings, which run the back of the thigh. The quadriceps has the function of extending the leg, so it is used when standing up, walking uphill or up the stairs and running. The hamstrings are used when bending the knee or pushing against something.
A simple exercise that will help strengthen the quadriceps consists of lying down and doing straight leg raises. Once you are in a good shape you can move to a more advanced level by doing the same exercise with weights. You don’t need any complicated equipment in order to do this. Just get an old bag, put a book in it and repeat the straight leg exercises. You can gradually add more weight to the bag.
To stretch your quadriceps, bring your heel to the hip with your hand, while keeping the knees together. Hold for 30 seconds.
To strengthen your hamstrings you can do contractions while seated, whether working or waiting for an appointment. All you have to do is pull back on your heels without moving them, while you are sitting in a chair with your heels on the floor. Hold for count of 10, relax for 3 seconds and then contract the hamstrings again, for 10 times. Another handy thing that helps develop your hamstrings is walking backwards. When you walk backwards your weight is distributed more evenly and this leads to less strain on your knees.
To stretch your hamstrings put one foot on a chair with your leg straight. Bend forward without touching your toes, since your goal is to isolate your hamstring muscles, not to stretch your back.