Strong knees are important in many sports, including basketball, running, and soccer. Some athletes make the mistake of thinking that running or their current fitness regimen is enough for keeping strong knees.
Thus, they are understandably confused when they suffer from knee pain after running or working out. The knee pain can last for days and even be debilitating. Athletes are also more susceptible to knee injuries while playing if they don’t implement any knee strengthening exercises into their training routine.
Listed below are some of the best knee strengthening exercises that you should consider incorporating into your workout routine. Just remember to switch it up from time to time, so that your body doesn’t become too used to a particular exercise.
Foam Roll Your Shins
You’ve probably seen someone use a foam roller before in the gym. A foam roller is a great way to give yourself a massage, release muscle tension, and apply pressure to trigger points to speed up recovery.
If you want to build strong knees, it’s important to alleviate any muscle tension that affects the knees. The shins are an often overlooked area that contributes to knee health and strength.
To foam roll your shins, move into the push up position with the roller situated at the base of your ankles. Turn your toe inwards and slowly inch the roller up toward your knee. Apply as much pressure as you feel is necessary without hurting yourself. Spend about 45 seconds to a minute foam rolling each shin.
Straight Leg Raises
Straight leg raises are an excellent exercise for strengthening your knees without putting any strain on the knees. This exercise is especially great to use for people who have bad knees, a knee injury, or knee pain.
Even if you don’t have knee problems, straight leg raises are beneficial. Straight leg raises target and strengthen the quadriceps. When your quads are stronger, your knees will become stronger too.
Straight leg raises are easy to do. Lie down on your back with one knee up and your foot flat on the floor. With the leg that is still extended, flex your foot and lift the leg without bending your knee. Slowly lower it for a complete rep. Perform three sets of 10-15 reps on each leg.
Don’t forget those hamstrings! In addition to the shins and quadriceps, your hamstrings influence knee strength as well. The hamstrings function to flex and bend the knee joint and extend the hip joint.
There are several different ways to do hamstring curls. One way is to lie down on your stomach and lift your heels to your butt. Hold this position for a moment before lowering your heels to complete the rep.
Do three sets of 15 reps. If lying hamstring curls without weights becomes too easy for you, either add weights or start using a hamstrong curl machine at the gym.
Find an object to grab or hold onto, such as the back of a chair, a wall bar, or the back of a couch. Slowly lift your heels as high as you can standing on your toes, then lower your heels back to the ground.
Perform three sets of 10-15 reps. If it’s not challenging enough for you, start lifting one foot slightly off the floor. Another way to increase the difficulty is to hold dumbbells while doing the calf raises.
Side Leg Raises
Side leg raises target the abductor muscles, which are in control of moving the thigh to the side of your body. This exercise will also tone your hips and glutes. The abductors are not only important in sports but for everyday activity too.
To do side leg raises, lie down on your side with your legs stacked. Straighten the top leg and raise it in the air about 45 degrees, holding the position for five seconds, before lowering it back down. You should perform 10-15 reps on each leg.
Another exercise that strengthens your knees is step-ups. Step your foot onto a step bench or the lowest stair on a staircase. Bend the knee while keeping your pelvis straight, then lower your leg back to the floor.
Do 10-15 step-ups on each leg. You can increase the difficult by touching your heel to the platform instead of your toe. Muscle groups that are strengthened from step-ups are the glutes, hamstrings, and quadriceps.
Hold dumbbells while performing step-ups to raise the difficulty level even more.
Isometric hip-flexion is an exercise that strengthens the quadriceps and encourages the knee to stay in or return to correct traction mode. Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you.
Flex your feet and slowly lift one leg without bending the knee. Hold the position for five seconds before lowering your leg back down. Perform 10 reps on each leg.
Building stronger knees is essential for preventing knee injuries and pain in sports. Runners, in particular, often suffer from knee problems.
You can prevent and treat knee problems by regularly completing the above exercises. Foam rollers work wonders as well because they keep tightness and knots out of the muscles that only exasperate pain.