Posted by Dr. Scott Wilson | 12-08-2016
Chronic knee pain is one of the most common issues that people face. It affects individuals of all ages and backgrounds and is the result of a wide range of factors. Knee pain can lead to serious issues such as faulty movement patterns that disrupt the hips and low back. It can limit your ability to move and perform your everyday activities. Thankfully, there are exercises to help reduce knee pain that you can use. Knowing how to perform these exercises correctly and consistently will provide lasting relief from knee pain and related issues. Exercise and Knee Pain Exercise works to strengthen weak muscles that may be contributing to knee pain while creating greater musculoskeletal balance and improving biomechanics. The incorrect application of exercises and poor form lead to more imbalances that may exacerbate pain. Using correct form provides greater benefits and minimizes any risk of injury. You should also progress slowly over time to ensure that you are working at the appropriate intensity levels. Warm Up Exercises A proper warm up prepares the muscles and joints for resistance exercises. It increases blood flow to the tissues and improves their elasticity, which allows you to move through optimal ranges of motion. Low-impact cardiovascular exercise is a good way to warm up the legs and hips. Many people use a stationary bike, walk on a treadmill, or do low-intensity bodyweight exercises. These are all effective ways to warm up the muscles and joints before exercising. Knee Flexion Also known as leg curls, knee flexion exercises strengthen the hamstrings and calf muscles. These are responsible for flexing the knee joint and provide stability to the knee. A simple way to perform a leg curl is to lie face down on the floor or a bench. From this position, slowly flex the knee joint and bring your heel towards your glute muscles. Make sure that you work within a full range of motion and use controlled movements. For more resistance, use an ankle weight around each leg or use a hamstring leg curl machine if there’s one available. Hip Extensions Strong and functional glute muscles work with the hamstrings when performing movements like walking, running, and squatting. Lie face down on the floor as you did with the knee flexion exercise. Now, keeping your knees straight, slowly lift one leg off the ground and towards the ceiling. Hold for 3–5 seconds and slowly lower your leg to the ground. You can repeat for as many repetitions as your physiotherapist recommends and then switch to the other leg. Ankle weights can also be used to increase the load on the muscles. Hip Abduction Hip abduction occurs when the leg moves laterally away from the body. Muscles that are responsible for this movement include the gluteus maximus, gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and tensor fascia latae (TFL). Lie down on your side so that one leg rests on top of the other. For better balance, bend the knee of the lower leg while keeping the top leg extended straight. Slowly raise the top leg towards the ceiling, hold for 3–5 seconds before returning to the starting position. Repeat the movement and then perform the exercise with the other leg. These are a few simple exercises to help reduce knee pain. By understanding how to perform them correctly, you can support the healing process and eliminate knee pain for good.