A complete guide to easy and simple knee stretches for athletes and the elderly. This is your complete guide to knee stretches in order to prevent future knee problems, recover from knee injuries, or simply to maintain good knees as you get older. Did you know that the knee is the most commonly injured joint in the body in all age groups?
Knee pain and injuries can come at any time in life (See 5 common causes of Knee Pain). It could be damaged during athletic activities, a trip or fall, or knee pain can be caused by general joint wear and tear as we get older. You may not realize just how much pressure you put on your knee joint in day to day life; when walking up stairs, the pressure across your knee joint is four times your body weight. Thinking about this and all the times we run, carry heavy loads, or kneel down to look under the sofa, it’s no wonder our knee joints need a little help to take the pressure.
Why Do Knee Stretches Help?
Well for two main reasons. Firstly, stretching the muscles around the knee will improve the flexibility of the muscles. When a muscle is more flexible it is less likely to be injured. Tight muscles around the knee can also pull the knee out of alignment, which can be painful and require long-term treatment. Remember, prevention is much easier than a cure. Second, knee stretches will improve the strength of the muscles around the knee. Strong muscles will support the knee and help to absorb shock even before it reaches the knee. Strengthening the muscles will reduce the stress placed on the joint, preventing injury. Maintaining and improving your knees can be aided by learning some simple things about the muscles surrounding the knee.
What Can We Do?
Learning about your knee and how it works can be a major step in understanding why the knee is such a vulnerable joint. Check out the your knee and its neighbor page to learn about the muscles involved in the joint and also for some great tips on describing your knee pain to a doctor or other medical professional; vital for a speedy and accurate diagnosis. Diagnose your knee pain immediately.
Different people will require different information so make sure you seek out the right information for you – depending on if you are recovering from an injury, looking for specialist information for runners or skiers, or are looking to prevent future knee problems as you get older.
If you are not currently in pain and don’t have any special needs, learning some general knee stretches and tips for preventing knee injuries is a great place to start. This section contains basic stretches to suit any level of athlete (or non athlete!) And spending just ten minutes, three times a week performing these stretches will go a long way towards building stronger, more resilient knees. Also, remember that anytime you do knee strengthening exercises the muscles will tighten so always remember to follow strengthening exercises with knee stretching exercises. Always warm up before exercising and stretch after exercising. Learn how to increase your knee’s flexibility and strength.
Stretches for Knee Pain
In just a second, I’ll get into 8 simple ways to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your knee. Before beginning any of these exercises, remember to take 5 to 10 minutes to lightly warm-up, such as going for a short walk or cycling on a static bike for a few minutes. Warmed-up muscles are more responsive to stretches and less likely to tear.
Knee stretches can be done as frequently as you like, even more than once a day. Strengthening exercises should always be followed by stretching exercises to keep your muscles flexible. Knee stretches should be performed without any bouncing and in a slow and controlled fashion. To make this section easy to follow, the exercises have been divided into two groups, stretching and strengthening exercises; and within each group, there is one exercise for each of the main muscles involved in the knee joint.
Knee Strengthening Exercises
Here are simple ways to stretch and strengthen the muscles around your knee:
Start by lying on the floor facing the ceiling or sitting up with your legs extended straight in front of you. Next, tighten your quadriceps muscle, which is the muscle on the front of your thighs by pushing your knee down. This will flex the quadriceps muscle, and you should feel your thigh muscle clench. Hold for 3 seconds. If this stretch is too difficult, place a rolled up towel under your knees.
Sit in a chair with your heel against the leg of the chair and your feet firmly on the floor. Press your heel firmly backwards into the chair leg feeling the back of your thighs tightening and clenching. Hold for 3 to 5 seconds.
Lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place a large cushion between your knees. Keeping your head on the floor and your arms by your side, press your knees together and squeeze the cushion as hard as you can for five seconds. Relax slightly, but keep the cushion in place. Push your knees together again and repeat. To make this exercise more challenging, increase the duration of the contractions.
Lie on your left side with your heels, hips, and shoulders in line. Use your own arm or a pillow to support your head. While keeping your feet parallel, move your right leg up in the air. Raise up until your legs form a 30 degree angle or as high as is comfortable. Hold for 2 seconds and lower. Repeat 5 times before changing sides. To make this exercise more challenging, you can try wearing a shoe for added weight.