You’ve probably heard the expression, “exercise is the best medicine.” Our team of physicians and physical therapists agree. Exercise can be beneficial for aches and pains, especially if you’re suffering from chronic knee problems or pain from arthritis.
Michael Baer, a Rebound physical therapist with more than 17 years of experience, works with many patients living with chronic knee problems. He/she focuses on strengthening muscles surrounding the joint to relieve pressure and tension and prevent injury. Below, he/she offers some tips for relieving knee pain.
Before making these exercises a part of your regimen, we suggest speaking with a physician or physical therapist.
“If you’re experiencing knee pain, it’s important to reexamine what steps you’re taking to protect your joint,” says Baer. “That could include paying more attention to your form or technique when exercising or considering doing exercises specific to conditioning the muscles that support your knees.”
Five Quick Exercise Tips for Knee Pain
- Always check your form and alignment.
“This is non-negotiable, and is especially important when in a bent position or squat. Check to see if your knees are protruding over your toes. If they are, you’re putting unnecessary (and often damaging) pressure and stress on your knees.”
- Squats = strength, support and shock absorption.
“The important thing to remember here is how far is too far. Half squats are often a safer option for people with knee pain. You can do them against a wall to ensure the safety of your back or use a counter or chair ledge for balance and support. Be sure to go slowly, keep your core tight and back flat, breathe and keep your feet hip width distance apart.”
- Stability and alignment matter.
“Calf raises help build calf muscle strength and ankle strength, which in turn improves knee stability. Don’t be afraid to fatigue your muscles, as long as you aren’t finding discomfort. Stable and strong calves and ankles mean your knees are less likely to absorb all stress. Pay special attention to your alignment and weight distribution to avoid strain.”
- Don’t resist resistance.
“Side-lying leg lifts and straight-leg raises are a great way to build quad strength, especially when you add weight gradually. Quadriceps strength is key when it comes to reducing stress on our knee joints. Start small. Try using five pound ankle weights initially, and work toward higher resistance.”
- Stretch it out.
“This probably a no-brainer, but stretching can help you increase or maintain your range of motion and also help prevent injury. Focus on stretching your quads, heels and hamstrings to condition your knees.”
You can also find helpful instructions on how to perform some of these exercises here. Variations do exist between the recommended exercises, so be sure to consult with one of our physicians or physical therapists on which routines are appropriate for your condition.
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