So what exercises should you do to bring about relief from knee pain? Any low-impact aerobic exercise such as swimming, biking, walking, and water aerobics are ideal. Aim for 30 minutes of low-impact aerobic exercise on most days of the week. Anaerobic exercises are also highly recommended several days per week to maintain if not increase strength of the muscles surrounding your knees. Bodyweight exercises such as supine, side-lying and prone single straight-leg knee raises are good warm-up exercises for each knee. Closed-chain isometric exercises can be good for aching knees. Try holding a squat against a wall for at least 10 seconds at a time and perform this exercise several times. Slowly perform calf raises off of a ledge (e.g., stair) for up to 15 reps for several sets using both or either leg at a time. Step-ups (e.g., stairs) is a superb exercise for strengthening the muscles above each knee. Perform resistance training exercises like leg extensions and leg curls to strengthen the quads and hamstrings, respectively. Be sure to perform up to 15 reps of leg presses to strengthen your quads.
Stretching every day is essential to reduce joint and muscle stiffness. Perform quad, hamstring and calf stretches daily. Be sure to hold each stretch up to 30 seconds and repeat two to four times. Refer to the exercise portion of this blog for how to perform certain stretches. Tai Chi and yoga are other options for stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding your knees. Most importantly, listen to your body and know your limits! Never push through bad pain! Apply an ice pack to an aching joint for up to 15 minutes to reduce inflammation. Taking a nice hot bath may also relieve sore joints.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."