Feeling weak in the knees at the sight of that someone special may be a good thing but joint pain is definitely not the something you’d want to endure. Knee pain is one of the most serious problems in our country where Arthritis affects almost 15% of the population.
Why do they hurt? Being overweight or obese, lack of muscle flexibility or strength, previous injury, loose cartilage, an inadequate diet which leads to weak bones and other problems like gout – there are several factors that can cause knee pain or even lead to osteoarthritis, a disease that erodes the flexible tissues of the knee joints.
If you haven’t been told yet, you should know that exercise is probably the medicine for painful knees. It also helps to counter all the above risk factors. According to Arthiritis India, “Exercise is an important constituent of management of knee osteoarthritis. Exercise strengthens hamstring and quadriceps muscles of thigh, decreases stiffness and increases flexibility as well as range of knee movement.”
The knee is very complex and at the same time very vulnerable as it does a lot of different movements and also bears the heavy weight of the body. Knees tend to undergo ‘wear and tear’ after the age of 40 with use and age which makes it important to follow an active lifestyle in order to combat knee problems later in life. Starting as early as your 30s can actually spare your years of discomfort and pain. We asked cross fit trainer and fitness expert, Vinata Shetty to share five easy exercises that help eliminate knee pain and also strengthen knee muscles.
1. Squats: Most people tend to think that squats should be avoided if you have a knee issue. Truth is it’s a great exercise to determine knee health! The squatting technique is important to reduce stress on knees and train and recruit the right muscles to perform the movement.
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and have your toes turned out by 15 degrees. Push the hip back and down till the hip crease is below the knee. Make sure that the weight is not on the toes but rather on the heel of foot. Pressing down with the heel and pushing the knee out revert to standing position.
2. Knee Extensions: These help in getting the blood in your joints flowing and accelerated muscle development. While standing on one leg, raise the other so that the knee is in line or a little below the hip crease. Maintaining a neutral spine extend the knee, hold it for 10 seconds and then bend. Do 10-12 repetitions and then repeat on other leg.
3. Planks: Your core can also affect your knee. A strong core can help transmit force better and reduce the load or stress on the knee with daily functional movements. Planks also help to develop a good posture which can offset knee pain caused due to muscle fatigue. The more your body is off-center, the more your muscles have to work to balance it. This strains your joints and ultimately puts pressure on your knees.
4. Step Ups: This is a great knee strengthening exercise which decreases the stress on the joints. Place your right foot on a bench or step and while lifting off vertically, come to a standing position at the top. Step down and repeat for 10-12 repetitions and then do the same with the left leg. Choose a height that allows you to lift off vertically and you don’t have to extend forward to come to a standing position.
5. Knee Bends: This exercise will help activate the gluteal muscles, which in turn will help stabilize the knee. Stand on one leg, push the hip back, keep the chest lifted, lower your hip and slightly bend your knee. Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat a few times.
Knees are a delicate and very crucial part of your body. We recommend you consult your doctor or medical supervisor before making the above exercises a part of your daily routine.