Toning exercises can increase strength and flexibility in the muscles of your lower body to prevent knee injury and pain. Here are some gentle toning exercises that will help strengthen and stabilize your knees, gently.
1) Quad Leg Lifts
Quad leg lifts strengthen the quadriceps, which play a vital role in keeping your knee joint stable. To perform quad leg lifts, lie on your back. Bend one knee to a 90 degree angle and keep that foot flat on the floor. Lift the other leg level with your bent knee and hold it in position, flexing your foot to activate the quad on that side most effectively.
Hold your leg in the elevated position for 15 to 30 seconds. Repeat the exercise on the other leg. Do five to ten repetitions with both legs, adding more sets of repetitions as you gain strength.
2) Wall Squats
Wall squats are another great way to stabilize your knee joints by strengthening your quads; they also activate the calves and muscles of the lower legs.
To perform wall squats, stand about two feet away from the wall, facing outward. Lean back so that you're pressing the entire length of your back against the wall. Bend your knees to a 90 degree angle so that your thighs are parallel with the floor.
Make sure you keep your knees stacked directly above the ankles. Press into the floor through your heels to ensure the correct distribution of weight through your knees and ankles. If you allow your knees to slide out past your ankles, you run the risk of serious knee injury. Press into the floor with the balls of your feet to activate your calves and maintain your balance.
Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat up to five times, depending on your level of strength.
3) Hamstring Curls
Hamstring curls can tone your hamstrings to ensure that you don't experience imbalances in lower body muscle strength. To perform hamstring curls, get down on your hands and knees, with your knees directly below your hips and your wrists directly below your ankles. Keep both legs bent, but lift one leg until the thigh is parallel to the floor. Flex your elevated foot to activate the hamstring muscle on that leg.
Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on both legs for ten repetitions. Add more sets of ten repetitions as you gain strength.
4) Hamstring Stretches
Tight hamstrings can cause knee and even lower back pain. Stretch your hamstrings by standing in front of a chair or table and placing one heel on it. Lean forward, with a straight spine until you feel a stretch in the back of your elevated leg. Hold this stretch for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat it on both legs, twice.
5) Calf Stretches
Tight calves can pull your knee joint out of alignment. Stretch your calves by leaning on a wall with your palms. Bend one knee and extend the other leg out behind you, as far as you can without lifting your heel off the floor. Lower your hips toward the floor and press into your rear heel.
Hold this position for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat on both legs, twice.