Knee Pain Exercises

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Exercises like these, in combination with other simple solutions may in time prove to work preventatively on knee arthritis and knee pain. These type of exercises have already been shown to prevent falls in the elderly and help with knee pain at any age. Preservation of joint health and successful pain management both depend on the preservation of joint strength, joint stability & joint mobility. 

The good news is that effective knee pain rehab doesn’t need to be fancy, in fact it’s better if it isn’t. Rather than a wide variety of complex movements it is better to focus on mastery, understanding & persistent execution of a few simple but highly targeted ones. For these reasons,  this exercise sheet contains very simple exercises, but with fairly in depth explanations on the  how’s & why’s of their execution. 

Range Of Motion –  Stretch Exercise  For Knee Pain

  1. Kneel on the floor with your legs bent to 90 degrees, use a pillow under your knees if you need to.

  1. Drop down into a kneeling position to the best of your ability. This position uses your body weight to push your knee through their full range of movement. Stay in this position for a full 2 minutes if you can.

*If your knees are very stiff you might want to do only go half way and place your hands on the floor for support. 

*If your knees are very mobile you may be able to lean backwards a little bit (as per the second photo below. Leaning back increases the stretch in the soft tissues of your knee. Many knee pain sufferers need to work up to this over a period of weeks and months. 

  1. Gently return to the orginal kneeling position and move around allowing  your knees to free up after the deep stretch.

  1. Repeat steps 1-3 three times.

*One of the knock on effects of living in the modern world for many of us is that we are not required to put our joints through their full range of motion in day to day life. In the same way that a muscle will tighten if it is always in a shortened postion, our joints tighten if they do not regularly stretched fully. 

*Trust a certain amount of discomfort when you perform this stretch without overdoing it of course. 

Single Leg Squats – Strength Exercise For Knee Pain 

  1. Balance on one leg and make sure you are steady. If you need to use a piece of furniture or a door frame for support please be certain to do so.

  1. Once you have your balance under control slowly execute a very small, very slow  single leg squat. The key to this squat is that it be very very slow and controlled, eliminating any wobble and maintaining weight slightly along the outside of the foot. As you can see from the following 2 pics it is not a deep squat!!! 

  1.  Repeat this slow controlled ‘mini-squat’ 10 times on your most painful or weak side. Then repeat it on your good side. Do 5 sets in total (50 squats all together).

*Knee pain sufferers often have poor balance caused by muscle weakness, you may find you are unsteady on this exercise. If you wobble excessively just practice standing on 1 leg for a minute at a time until your balance improves. After a couple of months you will find you can start to more effectively control some mini-squats like those shown here. 

*The whole point of this exercise is to functionally activate your glutes and your quads in a way that is supportive to your hip joints. It is just as beneficial for knee issues.

*The essence of this exercise is control, controlling any wobbles clears weakness and ‘spasticity’ from your leg and hip muscles. Bear in mind that this kind of weakness is a MAJOR part of what causes hip pain to be an issue !!!!! 

*GO SLOW!!! CONTROL IS THE NAME OF THE GAME. Analyse and micro-manage this movement,  making it as smooth, slow and controlled as you can.

Gentle Lunge – Strength Exercise For Knee Pain & Glute Activation

  1. Stand naturally but symmetrically in preparation for your gentle forward lunge. Maintaining good posture throughout lunges is important so gently press your shoulders down and hold your chin down slightly, expand your chest at the front too. Try and maintain this posture throughout the lunge.
  2. Step forward about the length of a long step, there is no need to step as far as you possibly can or anything like that. Just take a long step forward and plant your foot on the ground.
  1. Once your front foot is planted and you back heel is up off the ground you can begin to lunge, before you do though make sure the outer ⅔ of your front foot is bearing your weight. *this will mean your knee comes slightly wide of your body which is the key to activating your glutes.

The lunge itself is basically a shallow bend of your knee maintaining the weight over the outer ⅔ of the foot and keeping the knee nice and wide ( as per the the pic below )

  1. Push yourself back out of the lunge and reverse to the starting position and location. Focus on good control as you reverse the lunge and keep observing all the postural and alignment pointers you read above.

  1. Repeat steps 1-3 on the opposite leg carefully observing all the same postural and alignment rules.

  1. Start with 10 lunges on each side (20 in total). Have a rest for a few minutes then repeat. Some people may wish to start on 3 or 4 sets of 20, for others 1 or 2 will be an adequate start point. Don’t do so many that they get sloppy!!!

*If you have scar tissue around your knee you may well find this exercise makes your knees start to feel slightly worse over a period of days or weeks. This means you need to stop and see a practitioner who can use specific massage type techniques to break up the scar tissue before you can continue. 

*These lunges don’t need to be deep, do them quite shallow (Knee less than 90 degrees at deepest point). Focus on control of the movement that’s where the benefits are.