If you suffer from excruciating knee pain, you are not alone. According to figures from a Gallup-Healthways study, 26% of people in the US suffer from this condition. Some of the common causes of this pain include muscular imbalances, over use of knee joints, mobility problems, as well as under use of knee joints. The good news is you do not have to suffer in silence and bear this pain stoically. Here are six exercises and moves for stronger knees:
The TFL Distraction
To strengthen your knees, you should exercise the Tensor Fasciae Latae or the TFL muscle, which is a very small muscle located below the tip of your hip. This muscle causes knee pain when it tightens and pulls through a band called IT. An effective way of working this muscle is by using an exercise band.
The best way to do this is by placing one end of your exercise band around the lower part of your butt and looping the other end on a stationary and sturdy object. After this, get down on one knee and put the other leg in front. Make sure your torso is upright and then turn the kneeling knee slowly outwards.
This will rotate your hip internally and exercise the TFL muscle. Remember to squeeze the glute of the kneeling knee. The aim here is to stretch the TFL muscle as well.
Rolling out the Shins
Many gym goers perform foam-rolling exercises when targeting problem areas such as the back and hips. However, they fail to focus on the shins. In some cases, the shins can cause knee pain even when nothing seems wrong with them. To exercise your shins, kneel down and put a roller at the base of your ankles. After this, assume a pushup position and turn the toes as if you are pulling them towards the midline of your body.
This will expose and exercise shin muscles. Remember to press the shins on the roller as you move up towards the knee. If you really want to ramp up the intensity of these shin rolls, press your body down on the foam mat you are using for this exercise. The opposite is true. Try to keep shin rolls to about 45 seconds per leg.
Terminal Knee Extension
Another exercise that can greatly strengthen your knees is the terminal knee extension or TKE. To perform TKE, you must have an exercise band. Stretch the band and step on it with one leg and then place it above the knee. Try to walk or stretch your leg to extend the exercise band.
Follow up this move with an extension of the knee. At the same time, focus on keeping the knee straight while contracting the quad muscles.
The rule of thumb is to perform at least 25 reps on each knee. As you perform these extensions, expect to feel blood rush to that part of the knee.
Ankle Band Distractions
Since the ankle plays a big role in knee and hip motion, ankle problems generally arise when the ankle become rigid and stiff. In most cases, stiff ankles can cause great discomfort and even injury. You can use ankle band distractions to regain fluidity in your joints.
Once again, you will need an exercise band. Stretch it and loop one end of the band on a sturdy object and the other end on your ankle. Assume a staggered standing position with one leg in front of the other. With the exercise band firmly in place around your ankle, inch your foot forwards slowly while also pushing the knee forwards as far as possible.
Remember to keep the leg looped with a band firmly on the floor. Hold this position and try to rotate the ankle from side to side while rocking the knee forwards and backwards. After 45 seconds or so, loop the exercise band on the other knee and repeat the same motion.
Wall Quad Stretch
Unlike the other exercises described above, you do not require any type of equipment to perform a wall quad stretch. All you have to do is find a wall that you can use and then start exercising straight away. It is important to note that wall quad stretches also exercise parts such as the shins, knees, ankles, and the feet.
Stand up straight with your back pressed against a wall and assume a lunge position. Bend one foot and place your toes on the surface of the wall to create an axis point for this exercise. In general, the closer the knee is to the wall, the better because you will be able to exercise the quads, ankles and foot sufficiently.
If you would like to exercise the hips as well, all you have to do is push the hip flexors outwards.
Hamstring flossing focuses on the hamstring group of muscles. These include bicep femoris, semi membrane, and semitendinous. Exercising these muscles is important because they can cause knee pain especially in the posterior part of the knee. Performing this exercise is easy. To start with, you should have a lacrosse or tennis ball at hand as well as a raised platform such as a box.
Choose a platform that reaches your mid-thigh while standing. Sit on this platform and place the lacrosse or tennis ball under one leg. Bend and extend the knee while applying pressure to the hamstring muscle. Make sure the ball rolls nicely down the back of the leg as you straighten it and flex the leg. Perform this exercise on each leg for at least one minute. You should feel a marked difference afterwards.
Knee pain is not only painful but also tends to hinder mobility. Therefore, if you suffer from such pain, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Additionally, you can perform certain exercises at home to strengthen your knees and consequently, make them less prone to injuries and pain. Examples of such exercises include hamstring flossing, rolling out the shins, TFL distraction, wall quad stretch, ankle band distractions, and terminal knee extension. Stop exercising and consult your doctor if the knee pain persists.