Nix Knee Pain With 6 Effective Home Strengthening Exercises (Video Tutorials)

Suffering from knee pain? It can affect you at any age and it is not always easy to find the cause. The pain can be the result of overuse, injury, or a medical condition such as arthritis. It’s also a common complaint: A 2019 study found that about one in four people suffer from chronic knee pain. But when you consider that the knee is the largest joint in the body and bears most of your weight, this statistic comes as less of a surprise. But just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s irreversible — gentle, home-strengthening exercises can help manage the pain.

If you have osteoarthritis, are recovering from an injury, or have generalized knee pain from overworking your joints, exercise is a very effective way to reduce pain. Why? Strong muscles around the knee help absorb shock and reduce pressure on the joint. When performed correctly, these exercises also prevent further injuries. Of course, strengthening moves are only part of the puzzle — your doctor may recommend additional types of therapy to improve your symptoms. Still, taking 10 minutes out of your day to work those muscles is a good start.

To make sure you’re doing the right moves and doing them correctly, we reached out to Dr. Rami Hashish, PhD, DPT, who put together a custom knee-strengthening workout routine for women over 40. Keep reading to learn the five exercises he recommends.

Note: Speak with a doctor or physical trainer before attempting these exercises. If you feel pain while performing any of these movements, stop immediately and see your doctor.

Meet our expert.

Rami Hashish, PhD, DPT, is an expert on exercise performance and injury. He is also the founder of the National Biomechanics Institute and has served as an expert witness investigating injuries in sports, work, motor vehicle and aviation accidents more than 1,000 times. You can dr. Follow Hashish on TikTok (@injuryexpert) or on Instagram (@dr.ramihashish).

1. Glute Bridge

“Bridges help strengthen the glutes and stretch the hip flexors, improving stability and strength around the pelvis,” explains Dr. hash out. “Insufficient pelvic strength, stability and mobility can lead to compensatory – and harmful – movement patterns at the knee.” In other words, weak muscles around your pelvis can cause you to compensate by walking and moving in an unhealthy way, leading to more knee problems and a higher chance of injury. Here are the instructions from Dr. Hashish for making a glute bridge:

  1. Lie on your back with hands on your chest, knees bent and feet on the floor.

  2. Raise your buttocks off the floor, tightening your glutes.

  3. Slowly lower your buttocks back to the floor.

  4. Repeat 10 times.

Bonus Challenge: the single-leg gluteal bridge. “Lifting one leg off the floor and raising an extended leg further strengthens the quadriceps muscles, improving strength and stability around the knee joint,” says Dr. Hashish. Method: Lift one leg off the floor as you complete the gluteal bridge. Repeat five times on one leg, then five times on the other leg.

2. Hamstring Curls

“Standing hamstring curls serve to strengthen the hamstrings on the leg performing the curl, improving the strength and stability of the knee joint,” says Dr. hashish. “They also promote hip and knee strength and stability on the standing leg.” How:

  1. Stand with your feet parallel, hip-width apart.

  2. Bend your right leg at the knee, curl your leg up toward your buttocks. Lower it back to the floor.

  3. Repeat 10 times on your right leg and 10 times on your left leg.

Bonus Challenge: Use ankle weights to increase resistance. (A two- to three-pound ankle weight is enough to do the trick.)

3. Raise sensitive stretched legs

“Bending straight legs forward helps to strengthen the muscles in the back of the leg, namely the hip extensors (i.e. glutes) and hamstrings,” says Dr. hashish. Why strengthen the glutes when they control the movement of the hip? It’s all about indirectly helping your knees. “Incorrect hip movement and insufficient hip strength can expose the knee to harmful positions and movements,” he explains. “Hamstring strength helps you bend the knee properly and stabilize the knee joint.” How:

  1. Lie flat on your stomach, legs straight, arms bent, palms on the floor in front of your head. (You can rest your head on the back of your hands to relieve pressure on your neck.)

  2. While keeping your knee straight, raise your right leg as far as you can, with your stomach still flat on the floor.

  3. Slowly lower your right leg to the floor.

  4. Repeat 10 times on the right leg and 10 times on the left.

4: Side stepping with a tire

“Band side stepping is an excellent exercise that targets the muscles on the side of your hip joint,” says Dr. Hashish. “If these muscles are weak, the knees can drop inward, affecting their stability and exposing them to a greater risk of injury.” While this exercise requires a band, keep in mind that exercise bands are relatively inexpensive and available at Amazon, Walmart, Target, and almost any store that sells exercise equipment. How:

  1. Place the band under your knees and stand up straight, feet hip-width apart.

  2. Bend your knees slightly so that you are in a partial squat.

  3. Step laterally to the right (right foot moves first, then left foot follows).

  4. Keep stepping to the right until you feel fatigue in your right buttock (that slight burning sensation). This is usually after about 8 to 12 sidesteps.

  5. Step to the left until you feel fatigue in your left buttock.

Note: With thicker bands (with more resistance) you have the option of placing the band above your knees.

5. Straight leg raise

“Supine straight leg raises help to strengthen the muscles in the front of the leg — namely, the hip flexors and quadriceps (i.e., front thigh),” says Dr. hashish. “Adequate strengthening of the quadriceps is necessary to stabilize the knee joint and ensure that it straightens properly.” How:

  1. Lie flat on your back, legs straight, arms at your sides.

  2. While keeping your knee straight and your foot bent (instead of pointed), lift your right leg as far as you can.

  3. Slowly lower your right leg to the floor.

  4. Repeat 10 times on your right leg and 10 times on your left leg.

6. Wall Sit Squats

“A wall sit is a dynamic lower-body exercise that targets muscles in the hip and knee, with particular emphasis on the glutes and quads,” says Dr. hashish. He adds that it’s a highly functional exercise, meaning it improves daily movement. “We perform squat-like activities throughout the day — getting out of bed, getting in or out of a chair, picking something up off the floor, or getting into our car,” he explains.

In addition, wall sit squats are a classic “finisher” move because they increase muscular endurance. That endurance reduces the risk of injury – because, as Dr. Hashish points out, “we are most vulnerable to injury when we are fatigued.” How:

  1. Place your back against a wall, legs shoulder-width or slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.

  2. Squat down and slide your back down onto the wall.

  3. Squat upright again.

  4. Repeat the movement 10 times.

Bonus Challenge: Have a wall sit. Squat into a seated position, with thighs parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your doctor before following any treatment plan.

Nix Knee Pain With 6 Effective Home Strengthening Exercises (Video Tutorials)

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