9 Weak Knee Strengthening Exercises

Strong knees are important for staying active and performing simple functions like squatting, sitting down or running. Knees consist of bones, muscles, ligaments, cartilage and tendons. These structures can become weak due to injury, repetitive motions or conditions like obesity and arthritis. Wondering how do you strengthen a weak knee? Well, exercise is the answer. One does not need to use a lot of fancy equipments but just their body weight to become fitter. By performing some simple exercises, one can strengthen their knees and improve their overall function.

9 Weak Knee Strengthening Exercises

The following exercises focus on strengthening the knee-supporting muscles in order to take pressure off the knee joints and keep them well aligned. They should be practiced regularly for best results. However, a doctor should always be consulted before starting any exercise plan. Also, 5 minutes of warm up should be done before the exercise session for strengthening the knees.

Straight Leg Raises for Strengthening a Weak Knee

Straight leg raise is extremely good for people with knee pain. This exercise helps to work the front of the quadriceps, without having to bend the knees and helps a lot in strengthening a weak knee. Strong quadriceps muscles help to absorb shock before it impacts the knee joint and thereby decrease the strain on the knees and also help to lessen pain and friction. Straight leg raise should be performed while lying flat on the back. One leg should be bent while the other extended straight in front, on the floor. The foot should be flexed and the toes pulled towards the body while keeping the knee straight. The foot should then be lifted up to 6 inches off the floor and the position should be held for 3-5 seconds before lowering the leg back to the starting position. This movement should be repeated 10 to 20 times. Once the knees feel stronger, weight in the form of an ankle weight or shoe can be added on to increase the intensity of the exercise.

Knee March for Strengthening a Weak Knee

Knee march is a less strenuous version of straight leg raise. Knee marches concentrate on strengthening the quad muscles without placing downward pressure on the knees. Knee march exercise is very beneficial in strengthening a weak knee. To perform this exercise, one should sit tall on a chair with their feet on the floor. Then, while holding on to the chair’s edge, they need to lift one leg up towards their chest while keeping the knee bent. The leg should then be lowered and the movement performed again with the other leg. About 20 to 30 reps should be performed while alternating the legs to strengthen your weak knees. This exercise can be made tougher by adding a shoe or an ankle weight.

Glute Bridge Exercise to Strengthen Weak Knee

The glute bridge exercise works the complete lower half of the body, including the core. Strengthening the glutes, quads, core and hamstrings helps to reduce pressure off the knee joints, and improve knee stability during workouts. This exercise should be started while lying on the floor with the legs bent and feet aligned with the hips. Then using the glutes, the butt should be lifted upwards and this position should be held for a beat before lowering the body just above the floor. The back should not be arched while performing this exercise. 10 to 15 reps of the movement should be carried out to help strengthen the knee. When one can comfortably do standard bridges with no knee weakness or pain, they can attempt single-leg bridges by stretching one leg out in front as they rise and lower.

Clam Exercise

When glute muscles are weak, more load falls on the leg muscles and knee joints and causes strain and pain. So, strong glutes are important for removing excess pressure from the knees. Clam exercise is one of the best glutes-strengthening exercise. Glutes should be performed while lying sideways, with the head propped up with the arm. The hips should be bent at 45 degrees and the knees at 90 degrees, and one leg rested on top of the other. The top leg should then be lifted while the toes are kept together. About 10 to 15 reps of this movement should be performed with each leg to strengthen your knees.

Heel Raises

While other glutes exercises help to support the knees from the top, calf exercises such as heel raises help to support the knees from the bottom. The balance required to rise up on the balls of the feet in heel raise helps to strengthen the stabilizer muscles around the knees, and improve mobility and strength of the knee joints. For performing heel raises, one needs to stand tall with their feet placed shoulder width apart. The individual can lightly touch a chair or wall for balance, if required. They then need to rise up onto the balls of their feet, and refrain from leaning forward. This posture should be held for 1 to 2 seconds, before lowering the heels down. About 10 to 20 reps of this movement should be done to increase the strength in your weak knees.

Sit-to-Stand for Strengthening a Weak Knee

The sit-to-stand is basically an assisted squat and helps a lot in strengthening a weak knee. In this exercise, the squat is performed with the help of a chair, which is used to avoid putting too much pressure on weak knees. The sit-to-stand exercise works the complete lower body, and also the stabilizer muscles which run down from the glutes up to the toes, strengthening the knees against strain and shock. To perform this exercise, one needs to sit in a stable chair with their feet placed flat on the floor. They need to then stand up by engaging their glutes and core and pushing up forward at normal speed. Finally, they need to engage their glutes once again and place their entire weight on their heels to return to the sitting position. This entire move should be repeated 10 to 15 times. The intensity of this exercise can be increased by using a lower chair or by adding some weight, like a backpack or hand weights.

Single Leg Squat onto a Bench

Single-leg dips work the calves, glutes, thighs, and hamstrings while challenging the stabilizer muscles to maintain balance. This exercise helps to cushion the knee joint in its surrounding muscles to increase its mobility and strength. In single-leg dips, one needs to place 2 stable chairs back to back and stand between them. They need to gently rest one hand on the back of each chair to help them balance better, and then extend one leg out in front of them. While placing their weight on the heel of their standing leg, they need to gradually lower down a few inches and then rise to the standing position again. About 10 to 15 reps of this exercise should be performed on each leg to increase the strength of a weak knee.

Wall Squats

Wall squat is a great way of deriving the booty benefits of squats while increasing the knee strength to perform regular squats. In this exercise, the back is supported by the wall and the knees remain static as the surrounding muscles in the thighs, quadriceps and glutes are worked. These stabilizer muscles help to keep the knee joints strain free as they absorb impact and pressure during workouts.

To start wall squat, the performer needs to stand against a wall, or any other flat surface, and step out their feet at hip-width distance, 2 ft in front of them. They then need to slide their butt down until their hips are parallel to their knees. This position should be held for about half a minute and the movement should be repeated 2 to 3 times.

Deadlifts for Strengthening the Knees

One of the most effective exercises for strengthening the posterior chain, i.e. all the muscles running down a person’s backside, is deadlift. Since deadlifts work the glutes and hamstrings which aid in straightening and stabilizing the knee joints, they should definitely be added to the knee-strengthening routine.

A deadlift is started by standing tall and holding a pair of light dumbbells at the hips while keeping the knees slightly bent. The performer needs to bend forward keeping the dumbbells in front of their hips and pushing the hips back, simultaneously. The shoulders should not be allowed to round forward while performing this move. Once the individual has lowered just below their knees, they need to engage their gluten and hamstrings and return to the standing position. About 10 to 15 repetitions of this exercise should be performed. The intensity of the deadlift can be increased by adding on more weights.

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Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 28, 2018

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