Top 10 Therapy Exercises for Knee Pain and Injury
The value of your knee may still be unknown to you because you have never had any pain or suffered any injury. The truth is, on the average, everyone suffers knee injuries and pain, but the only difference is the intensity. While some feel some itch on the knee, others feel too much pain even to want the knee in the first place. When this happens, you are left with the option of engaging in a couple of physical activities to help regain your knees’ stability. Alternatively, others rush to see professional physicians to help minimize the impacts of the pain.
Every year, 18 million people visit the doctor due to knee injuries caused by internal and external factors surrounding the body. For a health issue this marginal, one would think that these statistics will keep reducing by the passage of every year. The common causes of knee pain include bursitis, tendinitis, meniscus tears, and sprained knee ligaments, among others. Some knee injuries are temporary, while others result in chronic conditions. However, knee pain caused by several conditions is treatable. Some do not require medical prescriptions. The good news is that physical activities like strengthening and stretching techniques can go a long in not only preventing the occurrence of knee pain but also alleviating it once it occurs. The objective of this article is to discuss 10 peer-reviewed therapy exercises for knee pain injuries, how to do them, and the value that each exercise has on the knees.
Knee Pain and Workout
There are several reasons for the occurrence of knee pain. The first is ligaments of sprain knees, bursitis, tendinitis, and overuse. When treating knee pain, it is worth noting its cause as this will determine which professional to visit. For example, if the pain is as a result of an injury or arthritis, all you need to do is diversify your strengthening exercises. This will help ease the flexibility of the muscles around the legs as while, in turn, maximizing the range of motion of your legs.
Ideally vital, gentle stretching and occasional movements of your knee go a long way in helping you recover as opposed to letting it stay still for long. The more the mobility is assured, the lower the stress impact on the injured knee. Health issues have been associated with the sudden change of attitudes, creating the impression that medical conditions could reveal the worst of certain patients. Most importantly, despite the intensity of your knee pain, prior to beginning any stretching and strengthening workouts, it is prudent to seek the professional advice of your doctor. They can suggest other methods or modify your treatment to best suit your health needs.
According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, performing stretching exercises is vital as it increases the flexibility of your knees. Keep in mind that the less flexible the knee, the more the chances of an injury. If you have healthy knees, the stretching exercises will assist you in maintaining a healthy state. Assuming that you have any knee complications, the exercises will help restore your health. Nevertheless, it would be best if you began with the less strenuous physical activities to avoid causing more injury (Peterson, Osterloh, & Graff, 2019). Sports physicians recommend cycling on a stationary bicycle, walking, and using an elliptical machine as the best warm-up option.
1. Heel and Calf Stretch
The heel and calf stretch is an exercise that targets the gastrocnemius muscle of the lower leg. The purpose of the exercise is to loosen the soleus muscle of the lower calf. To do this, you need to stand an arm's length from the wall. Next, you should place your left foot in front of your right. After that, bend your left leg forward. This should be done slowly and carefully. The next step is to keep your knee straight and the right heel on the ground. Finally, hold the position for fifteen to thirty seconds then reverse the position of the legs. This means placing the left foot behind the right and repeating the steps.
2. Hamstring Stretch
The hamstring stretch targets the muscles at the back of the thighs. If done correctly, you should feel a stretch at the back of your leg up to the base of your glutes. For starters, get a mat and place it on the floor because you will need to lie down on your back. Lie down on the mat and straighten your legs. Once you are comfortable, lift one of your legs off the floor. Now, place your hand behind your thigh but below the knee. Pull your knee towards your chest. Do this gently until you feel a slight stretch on your chest, but it should not be painful. Hold the position for thirty seconds. Lower your leg and repeat the steps with your other leg. Do this exercise at least twice for every leg.
3. Quadriceps Stretch
This exercise targets the muscles at the front of your thighs. The benefit of the quadriceps stretch is improving the flexibility of quadriceps muscles and hip flexors. There are three types of quadriceps stretches. They include side-lying stretch, standing quad stretch, and prone quadriceps stretch (Peterson et al., 2018 ). The standard one is the standing quad stretch. To begin, you need to stand next to the wall with your legs shoulder-width. You can use a chair for support. Next, bend one of your knees. Your foot should go up towards your glutes. Grab your ankle with one hand and assist in bending your knee back as far as possible. Hold the position for thirty seconds and go back to a standing position. After this, repeat the steps at least three times for every leg.
The trick in winning the battle against knee injuries is embracing a wide variety of lower body exercises. Normally, it is easy and convenient to work out on the upper body as it is on the lower body. Conversely, reliable research suggests that the more you engage in lower body strength and conditioning exercises, the lower the possibilities of the occurrence of knee pain or injuries. Unlike popular opinion that most lower body exercises are too intense, there are several ideas that you can devise that are nowhere close to severe. Still, the impact is as desirable as visiting the doctor. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon states that an individual having knee pain needs to do exercises that relieve stress from the knee as much as possible. This prevents the exertion of too much pressure on the knees, thus reducing the chances of experiencing pain. It would help if you focused on activities that strengthen your hamstrings, glutes, hip muscles, and quadriceps.
Remember that before every exercise, you have to warm up on time and enough. A few low impact physical activities like cycling a stationary bike or skipping a rope slowly can help your blood warm up enough ahead of the training session. The merit of warming up before the main work out revolves around the firmness of the muscles before the exercises begin. In the section below, a list of reliable, easy, and relatable strengthening exercises will be highlighted and discussed ideally. Once mastered, do 2-3 reps each week and attend the gym 3-4 times a week.
4. Calf Raises
This is a workout that strengthens the back of the lower leg. It also helps to stabilize your ankle, thus having excellent support while running and walking. To begin, stand on a flat surface with toes pointed forward. Lift your heel off the floor. This should flex your calf muscles. Hold the position for a few seconds then slowly move back to the floor. That represents one rep. The number of reps depends on how long you have been exercising. If you are a beginner, the best idea is to start with ten to fifteen reps or two sets. A clear indicator of the appropriate workout is the feeling of a burn after every set. However, it should not be painful. While doing the exercise, you have to keep your ankle in mind. Your ankle should be stable to avoid rolling in or out, which can lead to an injury. That said, it is essential to do ankle strengthening exercises before trying out calf raises.
5. Half Squats
The half squat is a marvelous exercise at it strengthens one's glutes, quadriceps, and hamstring without exerting too much pressure on the knees. This means that half squats involve excellent stability. For that reason, exercise is also useful for weight gaining purposes. To do the exercise correctly, assume a standing squat position. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Attain balance by placing your hands on the hips or out in front of you. After that, face straight ahead and start moving down slowly to about fifteen inches. This is known as a half squat. Hold the position for ten seconds then return to a standing position by pushing through your heels. For best results, you should do two to three sets of ten repeats. One benefit of half squats is that they allow you to lift more weight. Also, it improves your ability to sprint and jump. Also, you can do full squats as they come with a couple of advantages. You will have a high chance of developing stronger glutes, hips, and ankles. This automatically indicates that you will have more stability, thus always assuming the right posture.
6. Hamstring Curl
Hamstring curl exercise is also known as leg curl. It targets your hamstrings and glutes. This task requires a well, stable core to support the upper part of the body plus the hips. The exercise fully involves twisting the lower leg against the resistance of the upper buttocks. However, this exercise is done with the help of a leg curl machine. When exercising using the leg curl machine, your back thigh muscles work to raise your lower leg. This movement engages the hamstrings, thus making them durable. Besides, hamstrings curls help in stretching the quadriceps that later on aid in relieving unnecessary back pain.
Leg curls have their benefit to the human body. First, they aid in improving flexibility of the hamstrings, strengthening of the hips and the knees. Hamstring curls target other muscle groups in the human body. Overall, they can increase the strength and flexibility of these muscle cells. They will, later on, help in body ages, especially those that are prone to knee joint problems or back pain. On the other hand, the hamstring curl machine facilitates cardiovascular strength and total weight control.
7. Leg Extensions
When performing leg extensions, you sit on a chair and lift a weight bar using the quadriceps cells. Although, it is advisable to use your body heft to strengthen your quadriceps instead of the leg extension machines because it is crucial in restraining additional pressure off your knees. It is important to note that there are some machines used in leg extension exercises that have a specific weight number on them. However, once an extra ounce of force to the average body weight of an individual is added, the muscles knees tend to weaken instead of getting stronger.
Leg extensions are an essential exercise in the reinforcement of the patellar tendon and quadriceps attachment of the knee. The main focus of this exercise is to strengthen the quad only, for that reason reinforcing the critical parts for the knee attachments. There is a certain stereotype which state that leg extensions can be damaging for your knees. In some cases, yes, especially if you are not careful when choosing the right leg extension machines. On the brighter side, leg extensions are a perfect workout for people with back and knee problems. Conversely, as mentioned, it is vital to reduce the mass load and concentrate on the squeeze instead.
8. Straight Leg Raises
If you are someone that has a passing interest in building a rock core six-pack kind of body by now, you should know that the straight leg raise strategy is the best approach. Straight leg raises focus on the knees, hip flexor muscles, and working on abs. Unlike the other knee exercises, this one gets more comfortable every time you exercise. Mainly because you are allowed to add five-pound ankle heft and increasingly to work up to a denser weight as you build strength up in your muscle legs (Peterson et al., 2018). Moreover, straight leg raises works on your lower abs and is considered significant for anyone that spends most of their time sitting at a desk.
Most importantly, leg raises are beneficial when done leisurely by swaying your legs back and forth to focus on working on the muscles. The lower abdominal muscles significantly benefit from the leg raises. This exercise relieves abdominal pain and lowers fatigue by changing the position of the legs from bent to straight to address various abdominal pains. As mentioned above, all types of leg raises escalate flexibility, liveliness, and strength of hip flexors.
9. Side Leg Raises
This exercise involves working your hip abductor muscles as well as your glutes. The hip abductor in the human body is on the outer side of the hips. Its primary function is the stability of mobility which is all standing and rotating the legs effortlessness. Side leg raises play a notable role in strengthening the leg muscles. Still vital, it helps when preventing and treating pain, especially in the hips and knees. Straight leg raises and side leg raises have one thing in common. For both, you are allowed to add five pounds to strengthen the muscles more each time you work out.
Side leg raises are known to be of much better help to women as compared to men. This is because it gets rid of cellulite fats in a female body system faster than that of a male. Besides, you can work out using the side leg rises anywhere anytime since it does not require any special equipment, and it is incredibly harmless. Last but still vital, if by any chance, there is the formation of unnecessary fats around the hip area, regular exercises of this exercise will help in losing the fats before their build-up.
10. Prone leg raises
Like all the above exercises, you are open to adding five-pound ankle mass and continuously work up to a heavier weight that will add strength in your leg muscles. However, this exercise you lie facing the ceiling, the legs moving up and down, not to touch the ground. Most importantly, it is worth noting the fact that the sacroiliac joint is usually more stable when prone leg raises are exercised more regularly.
Secondly, balance and stability improve with the help of the leg lifts that later on, back up the upper body and minimize the chances of stumbling unnecessarily. The human body responds to prone leg lifting by increasing the blood flow and getting rid of unnecessary calories. Once you get comfortable practising light leg raises, you will be more interested in getting to experience a more significant challenge that comes along with its health benefits. All types of leg raise are known to favour women. This is unlike side leg raises and prone leg raises. Both are known to be abs killers but pain reliever to abdominal menstrual pains and back pain for women.
Other Solutions of Knee Pain
The first alternative to knee pain and injury treatment is losing weight. Research has been quick to prove the fact that over-weight people have a higher tendency of suffering physical health complications as opposed to those who work out. The more the weight, the higher the possibility of the occurrence of osteoarthritis. It is a medical condition that limits mobility by affecting the lower parts of your limb. You can combat the threats that osteoarthritis poses to the world by ensuring that your weight is in check.
The other solution is RICE. It stands for rest, ice, compress and elevate. It is as simple as that. When it comes to overuse, professional doctors, as well as trainees, will ask you to take a rest. Overuse could be as a result of a lack of adequate muscle relaxation. When this occurs, the first course of action should be taking a day or a week off. Cool off the injured knee by icing it as much as you can. Then, you have to compress the affected area before elevating your leg. While the RICE strategy may seem easy and approachable on paper, the real truth is that nothing has been any harder and more painful. Put, no knee injury or pain is good, no matter the cause. Once you begin feeling weird in the affected areas, the first course of action is taking measures against the sign. Also, you have the option of using prescription creams that reduce inflammation and pain on the knee and ankle joints. Most of the creams are available over-the-counter. However, it would help a lot if you combine prescription medication and the mentioned workouts. Besides, several supplements are good for healing knee pain as they contain essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium. The three are vital elements for bone and joint health.
To this point in the article, it is evident that knee pain is the most common type of physical injury. This means that for the 18 million people who visit professional therapies every year, there is still a chance of beating the pain. On any take, stretching and strengthening exercises can help focus on the sensitive knee joints and ligaments, which will, in turn, facilitate mobility, lower-body flexibility as well as the overall range of motion. Despite the severity of knee pain, there is no need to panic. Trust that a few exercises at home and later on visiting a therapist will end the nightmare for you. The best part now is that you are on the know. The next time you hurt your knee or witness someone who does, begin by the simplest of all stretching exercises. Remember, with or without the knee pain, working out is still desirable. Exercise and stretch every once in a while.