When your knees are giving you trouble, staying active and mobile is typically better for you than bed rest and inactivity. But you must be mindful of which movements will help your knees and which could worsen the problem.
Generally, it would help if you avoided high-impact activities and movements that put your knees in positions that bear too much weight.
Exercises to avoid include:
- deep knee bends
Finding effective stretches for knee pain focuses on exercises that target the muscles around the joint rather than the joint itself. Use slow and gentle movements, and avoid any positions that cause pain.
Your hamstrings are the large thigh muscles running down your legs back. They are what allow you to bend your knees and extend your hips.
To strengthen your hamstrings, focus on stretches involving unbent knees and bends at the hip.
Standing Leg Raises
Standing up straight, slowly raise one leg straight out in front of you, keeping both knees straight.
Hold onto something for balance if needed. Repeat back and forth with both legs.
Lying Hamstring Stretch
This movement looks very similar, except you are lying on your back.
Slowly raise a straightened leg into the air. Use your hands to hold onto your thigh and gently pull it towards you.
In this horizontal position, you can focus on stretching the muscle without worrying about maintaining your balance.
Seated Hamstring Stretch
For this stretch, you need two chairs of equal height facing each other. Sit in one of the chairs with one foot down on the ground and the other leg straight out in front of you elevated on the other chair.
Instead of raising your leg, you will slowly bend your upper body down toward your leg. Repeat with the other leg.
Your quad muscles are the large muscles on the front of your thighs. They allow you to straighten your knee and flex your hip.
For quad stretches, you will want to focus on positions where your knees are bent.
Standing Quad Stretch
Stand next to a sturdy chair, wall, or countertop for balance. Bend one knee and grab your ankle, pulling your heel up toward your butt.
Hold for a few deep breaths and then repeat with the other leg.
Lying Quad Stretch
This variation uses the same stretch as the standing quad stretch but without needing balance.
Lie on your right side. Bend your left knee and grab your ankle with your left hand.
Pull your heel toward your butt and hold for a few deep breaths. Roll over onto your other side and repeat with the other leg.
In addition to your thigh muscles, you’ll also want to stretch and strengthen the calf muscles below your knees.
Stand facing a wall and place your palms flat against the wall at about chest level.
With one foot forward and the other foot back, slowly lean into the wall. Hold for a few deep breaths.
Make sure to keep both feet flat on the ground and your rear leg straight. Repeat with the other leg.
Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Slowly raise up onto your toes, holding for a moment at the top of the movement before lowering yourself back down.
Hold onto something sturdy if you have trouble balancing. Repeat this small movement 20-30 times.