It’s really important to make sure that you do the best exercises and stretches for knee pain and at the right time. Whether your knee pain came out of the blue or you’re recovering from a long-term injury, the right workout can strengthen your knees and may eliminate pain over time. Check with your doctor before starting any exercise after an injury because pushing yourself too hard too fast can cause more damage. Once you know you’re ready, though, how do you know where to begin? And, what’s the best workout to get you back on the road to recovery?
Best Basic Stretches and Exercises for Knee Pain
As you probably know, it’s best to start any knee strengthening exercises with thorough stretching. This is especially true when you’re recovering from an injury, even if you are only doing low-impact exercises. Here are some of the best stretches you can do for sore knees.
- Supine Hamstring Stretch. It might not immediately seem like stretching your hamstrings can benefit your knees, but it’s true. Here’s the deal: the stronger the larger muscles in your legs are, the more stable your knee joints will be. To carry out a supine hamstring stretch, lie on your back on the floor with your hips in a doorway. Keep one leg straight in front of you while you raise the other leg slowly and place it against door jamb keeping it slightly bent. Stay in this position for about 30 seconds, the switch legs.
- Quad Stretch. For this stretch, you need a yoga band. If you don’t have one, you can use a belt or piece of long fabric. Lie on your stomach on the floor and loop the band around your feet. Pull the strap so your foot moves slowly to your buttocks. When you feel a stretch, hold for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
- Standing Calf Stretch. The calf muscles can tighten and affect your knee’s movement so having a loose calf muscle can help with pain and prevent any future problems. For this stretch, you’ll need some stairs. Stand so both of your heels are sticking off of the step then let your heels drop until you feel a stretch up your calf. Make sure you hold on to the railing to keep your balance. Hold for 30 seconds.
Now that you’re all stretched, here are some exercises you can to help with knee pain:
- Partial Squats. The best way to do partial squats is to imagine you’re about to sit down in a chair. Stand with your feet a hip-width apart. Bend your hips and knees and slowly lower yourself down as if you’re going to sit down. Make sure to keep your core tight. To make sure your knees stay safe, keep them behind your toes. 10–12 reps is a good number to shoot for.
- Step Ups. This is a great exercise that you can do at home because all you need is a staircase. Step up with one foot. Then, bring the other foot up, tap the stair, then lower back down to the floor. Keep your knees over your ankles and repeat with the other leg. Do 10–12 reps total.
- Standing Calf Raises. Stand by a wall or railing so you have something to grab onto for balance. Then, stand with your feet spread apart a hip-width. Slowly stretch up to standing on your tiptoes. Hold, then slowly lower yourself back down. Do this 10–12 times.
What to Do for the Ultimate Knee Injury Workout
Believe it or not, one of the best exercises you can do when recuperating from a knee injury or just trying to eliminate knee pain is biking. That said, here are some things to keep in mind:
- Bike on a flat, concrete path outdoors or an indoor track. If you are recovering from a knee injury, it’s probably not a good idea to try to ride on rocky, uneven terrain.
- Make sure your bike is the right fit for your body. You can actually go to a bike shop and have your measurements taken and your bike adjusted to fit you perfectly.
- If you find that a regular bicycle is causing you a lot of joint pain and not really helping much, consider getting a recumbent bike. You’ll get the same benefits but it will be a lot easier on your body.
So, why is biking such a great exercise for knee injuries?
- It strengthens all of the muscles in your legs. As we touched on when discussing stretches, strengthening the rest of your leg helps stabilize your knee. Think about it. A lot of the tendons, ligaments, and muscles from your legs either connect to or go around your knee. It only makes sense that strengthening them helps your knee as well. Your legs will absorb shock better which reduces joint damage and pain.
- There’s little to no impact so you don’t have to worry about causing additional wear and tear damage or injuring it again.
- Unlike some activities like basketball, tennis, or volleyball where you are making sudden stops and starts, there’s not much chance that you’ll twist your knee if it’s still a little unstable.
Be Smart, Be Safe
If you’re suffering from knee pain or recovering from a more serious knee injury, make sure you listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard because you could end up causing more damage. If you start having pain, stop and try again in a few days. You should also check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program, especially when you’ve had a previous injury.
When you have knee pain, it can be very frustrating. Something as simple as walking can cause discomfort and you might feel as though you’ll never get back to your old level of fitness. If you follow these recommendations and work through your recovery slowly, you’ll be back on your feet in no time.