Strengthening knee exercises can prevent injury and protect your knee from overuse and strain. If you already have knee pain, consult a medical professional and obtain a diagnosis and treatment plan before attempting any exercises. If your knees feel fine at the moment and you’d like to prevent injury in the future, try some of this toning exercises to strengthen your knees. Remember to warm up first with five to ten minutes of gentle exercise, like walking.
1) Leg Lifts for Quads
Leg lifts can strengthen your quads, which play a vital role in protecting your knees and their function. Lie on your back and bend your right leg to a 90 degree angle; keep your right foot on the floor. Flex your left foot and keep your left leg straight as you lift it up even with your right knee. Hold the leg elevated for five seconds and then repeat with the other leg; work your way up to ten sets of ten reps apiece.
2) Hamstring Curls
Weak hamstrings can lead to instabilities in the knee, since your knees won’t be able to bend properly if your hamstrings are too weak. Strengthen your hamstrings by walking backward or by performing hamstring curls.
Get down on your hands and knees. Keep your knees stacked directly below your hips, and your wrists directly below your shoulders. Lift your right leg, keeping it bent, until your right thigh is parallel with the floor. Flex your right foot and hold the position for five seconds. Repeat on the other leg and work your way up to ten sets of ten repetitions.
3) Balance Exercises
Balancing exercises increase stability in the knee joints. When you first begin to practice balance exercises, use a wall, chair or table for support. Stand on one foot for one minute. Distribute your weight equally into the entire sole of your foot, without leaning your torso to either side; remember to repeat the exercise on both legs.
As your balance improves, you can begin to release your wall, table or chair and balance without support. Keep your hands a few inches above the support until you’re sure you can balance without it.
4) Leg Lifts for Glutes
Your glutes, or buttock muscles, are also very important to knee strength and stability. You can strengthen your glutes by walking or swimming (these low impact exercises are gentle on the knees). You can also perform glute activating leg lifts to strengthen the muscle.
Stand facing a wall or chair and hold onto it for support. Lift one leg backwards until your glutes begin to contract on that side. Tense the glutes as tightly as you can and move the leg further back until you can’t move it any further. Maintain the position for five seconds and then repeat the exercise on the other side. Work your way up to ten sets of ten repetitions as you build strength in your glutes.