1. You have healthy knees – and you’d like to keep it that way. That’s not a job you can tackle sitting down, though getting into a 90-degree position could help. First, though, you’ll want to heed a simple but central lesson roughly adapted from age-old song lyrics: “The hip bone’s connected to the knee bone.” Physical activities that strengthen your hips, quads, calves, and ankles are also good for your knees, while weakness in any of those areas can increase knee strain and risk of injury. So think “holistic” leg health.
2. Indelicate squat discussion first. You’re going to be doing that kind of loading on the knee joint just to get on and off the toilet. It’s important to do exercises that prepare the knee for regular day-to-day activities. Squatting really affects all the muscles around the knee joint, including strengthening the muscles around the knee joint. Haven’t done squats in a while – or ever? Start by doing at least 8-12 reps with just your weight, going down to just above 90 degrees, or right at 90 degrees if you don’t have any discomfort, injuries or issues that prevent that. Alternative: try leg press if you have back problems or other issues preventing you from doing squats.
3. Like squats, lunges can also be an excellent exercise to improve strength in your quads and butt o help support your knees. With both exercises, he notes, make sure you’re in good position – feet firmly planted. So that you’re not coming too far forward and putting more stress on the joint. Talk to your doctor before doing lunges if you’re concerned about a preexisting issue, like osteoarthritis or a knee injury, to keep from exacerbating it.
4. Whether you’re familiar with step-ups or not, you get the general idea. You’re lifting your body weight using one hip, one leg to get that weight, like you’re going up the stairs. Keeping the hip joint muscles strong and well-conditioned along with muscles around the ankle strong and well-conditioned will help minimize the risk of injury at the knee joint. To get started with step-ups, place your foot on a high step, weight bench or plyo boxes, so that your leg is bent at about a 90-degree angle. Then bring your other foot up onto the surface. Repeat for 12-15 reps, and add weight as you’re able.
5. A weak back and stomach can put extra stress on the joints that support your body. A good core strengthening program is important and paramount to the health of your knees, hips, and lower extremities. It’s important to do plenty of back and abdominal strengthening exercises. A range of activities can help in core strengthening, experts say, while improving flexibility, balance, stability, which are also protective of joint strength.
6. Running has taken a pounding for the pounding it can take on the knees. For most people, it’s a safe activity. It’s easy, low cost, and we’re all designed to run for the most part. IT’s just being smart about what you can tolerate. That goes for not ramping up too quickly to longer distances or pushing through the pain of an injury – and taking time off to heal as needed. While some who have arthritis in their knees are still able to run, experts say it’s important to talk with a physician about any existing knee issues to determine what’s safe, including when walking might be more appropriate.
7. Whether you’re biking with friends or riding alone, racing the clock or just catching a cool breeze, taking to two wheels can strengthen your quads and calves – and even improve overall leg strengthening to bolster the knee health. Cycling is also a low-impact activity. The circular, rhythmic pedaling is easy on the knees and it can provide a great aerobic workout to boot.
8. Though many do just fine running on a treadmill, trying alternating an elliptical machine for an aerobic workout that works the legs while being easy on the knees. With your foot planted against a platform, there’s not repetitive impact that leads to the degredation of cartilage over time. And! It can help maintain muscular endurance.
9. While certain exercises target muscles are the joint, at the end of the day any strength training or aerobic exercise that helps you maintain a healthy weight reduces pressure on your knees. When you stand on one foot, 5-8x your body weight goes through your knee joint. If you gain 5 pounds, that’s an extra 25-40 pounds of pressure going through your knee joint. If for no other reason, exercise to keep your weight in check to decrease the stress on joints. That goes for knee-friendly exercises ranging from the elliptical machine to cycling, experts say, and anything else that gets you moving.