If you suffer from knee pain, exercise may not seem like the first line of defense. But it depends on the type of exercise you do; the wrong move can make your pain worse, and the right types of exercise can strengthen the muscles supporting your knee and help relieve pain. It comes down to knowing which types can help your knee pain.
We’ve put together a list of seven exercises for knee pain that promote pain relief, but remember to talk to your doctor before beginning any type of exercise regimen and start slowly to build up your strength.
Before you start any form of exercise, be sure to stretch your muscles to warm them up. Without doing so, you run the risk of causing further damage or worsening an injury regardless of what exercises you follow. Exercises like the quad stretch, touching your toes from a standing position, or hamstring stretch get all the various muscles in your leg, including the knees.
Try riding on a stationary bike first before moving to a regular bike. This will help you to improve your strength and stability without having to worry about balancing the bike and not overworking your knees if going uphill or on uneven grounds.
Leg raises put minimal weight on the knee. Start by lying on your back on the floor. Bend one knee with your foot flat on the floor. Keep the other leg out straight, then raise it up as high as the other knee. Start with three sets of 10 reps, adding from there.
In a standing position, hold onto a steady surface and lift one leg to bring your heel to your behind. Start with three sets of 15 and, once you build up your strength, try doing reps with ankle weights.
Standing with your feet hip width apart, raise your heels until you are standing on the balls of your feet. This position flexes the calf muscle. If need be, hold onto a wall or furniture until you can maintain your balance. Stand up straight with your shoulders square and body centered. Start off with three sets of 15, and when this becomes less of a challenge, do the exercise standing on one foot at a time.
With your feet hip width apart on the floor and feet facing forward, slowly bend your knees as though you are going to sit in a chair. Keep your back straight and your chest up. Push your weight into your back heels, then bring yourself back up to a standing position. Start off by holding in a squat position for 10 seconds and as you build up your stamina, add a few seconds each time.
Using the steps in your house or an aerobic step platform, step up with your right foot and then your left, then step back down. Start off slowly to maintain your balance so you don’t fall and twist your knee. As you gain balance, you can pick up the pace. Try starting with 10-15 at a time.
Remember, if you start feeling pain or pressure in your knee, stop right away. Exercise shouldn’t make the pain worse. With every move, start slowly and with a few repetitions at a time. Don’t push yourself too hard where you cause damage that will set you back to where you can’t exercise at all. Always check with your doctor if you’re experiencing pain that won’t go away.
If you have chronic knee pain, there are other means of treating it beyond exercise. Learn what they are in our guide, When to See a Doctor for Chronic Knee Pain.