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Stronger steps ahead: Five exercises to address weak knees
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Stronger steps ahead: Five exercises to address weak knees

Besides clicking or snapping noises, those with weak knees can also experience pain and reduced range of motion. Strengthening the surrounding muscles can help
Some exercises to address weak knees include step-ups, partial squats and hamstring curls
Photo by Anantha Subramanyam K/Happiest Health

Your knees, which bear a significant amount of your body weight, rely on the muscles surrounding them for stability and support. Those with weak knees, however, experience pain and reduced efficiency in balancing their weight. “The main symptoms of weak knees include inability to stand for long durations, pain and instability after doing physical activities,” says Babita Nayak, physical therapist, Apollo Speciality Hospital, Jayanagar, Bangalore. “The knees can also buckle or give way. Further, bending the knee becomes difficult due to restricted range of motion.”

She recommends avoiding certain activities if you have weak knees. “Movements causing severe pain in the knee joint should be avoided or modified. Avoid sitting on a couch that is very low because the knees should be perpendicular or at a 90-degree angle from the floor. You should also stay away from high-impact activities like jumping and running, among others,” she cautions.

According to experts, targeted resistance exercises can help alleviate knee pain and improve overall knee function.

Strengthening the surrounding muscles helps

Exercise, especially resistance training, can significantly strengthen your knees and help you lead a pain-free life. A study on resistance exercises for knee osteoarthritis found that they are a vital component in treating some of the underlying causes of the condition, including muscle strength insufficiency, muscle activation imbalance, aberrant biomechanics and cartilage loading.

Another study comparing the effects of dynamic and isometric resistance training for pain relief and functioning among adults with knee osteoarthritis found that both forms of exercise improve functional ability and reduce knee joint pain.

Expert inputs backed by such studies suggest that strengthening the muscles around the knees through targeted exercises not only contributes to better knee stability but also aids in managing conditions like osteoarthritis, reducing pain and enhancing overall knee function.

“First, they must work on the quadriceps and hamstrings, which are the main muscle groups involved in knee movement,” says Nayak.

Exercises to address weak knees

Experts say that while exercising, it’s crucial to follow proper form, be consistent and progress gradually. This allows your knees to adapt and grow stronger without causing unnecessary strain. They list the following exercises for strengthening the muscles surrounding the knees:

♦ Straight leg raises

Lie on your back and bend one knee, keeping the other leg straight. Lift the straightened leg a few inches off the ground and make sure to engage the quads. Hold the position for a few seconds and then lower it down. Do the same for the other side.

♦ Terminal knee extensions

Tie a resistance band around a stable object. Loop it around the affected knee and slowly straighten it against the band’s resistance.

♦ Partial squats

Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly bend your knees, lower your body a few inches and then return to the starting position. Make sure to keep your thighs parallel to the ground.

♦ Step-ups

Find a step or platform. Step onto it with one foot, then step back down. Repeat the process, alternating your legs. Use a railing or wall for support if needed.

♦ Hamstring curls

Lie on your stomach, bend your knees and bring your heels towards your buttocks, ensuring you feel a strong contraction in the hamstrings. Hold the position briefly and then straighten your legs.

You can start with these exercises to address weak knees, gradually progressing to different variations that offer a bigger challenge and increased load.

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