Knee pain is a very common feeling, either from a previous injury or sitting for long periods due to the office life work environment. There are cartilage, ligaments, and sensitive tissue surrounding the delicate knee cap that needs to be looked after.
As a professional trigger therapist based in Hong Kong, I encountered a lot of clients with knee problems. Here is a list of exercises that I recommend to strengthen your knee.
How to Reduce Knee Pain – Quick Summary
- Bridge with Pilates ring – Strengthen inner thighs, glutes, and hamstrings, equipment needed: URBNFit Pilates Ring Fitness Circle
- Straight Leg Raises (with or without ankle weights) – strengthens quads and obliques. equipment needed: TheraBand Ankle Weights
- The Crab – strengthens outer glutes and thighs equipment needed: Recredo Booty Bands, Set of 3
- Standing Leg Side Raises – strengthens outer thighs, glutes and outer calf equipment needed: SKL Resistance Bands, Set of 4
- King Arthur Pose – stretches quads equipment needed: 1) Gaiam Yoga Block 2) ProsourceFit Exercise Balance Pad
What is Causing Pain?
Knee pain can be so annoying that walking or going up and down the stairs can be uncomfortable. It can be a result of trauma or old age, however, most of the time it is the surrounding muscles that are not strong enough to support and hold the knee in the correct alignment.
Alternatively, it could also be that the opposing muscles are so tight that they are pulling on one end, causing an imbalance on both sides. I would suggest taking an MRI to check for serious problems before you begin any treatment.
Knowing the problem from the start will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
I have written several articles dealing with different pain problems, do check them out if you are suffering from any of these problems:
- Knee Pain: What to do when you hurt youR knees?
- Neck Pain:
- Shoulder Pain: Best shoulder pain relief products
- Elbow Pain: Best elbow pain relief treatments
- Tight hip: Best stretches for tight hip and hip pain
Who Should Get This
People with knee pain obviously, but people with underlying illnesses such as diabetes and overweight problems, Those who have had trauma to the knee and people that are in rehab. As well for people wants to learn themselves to take care of their health.
Best Exercises to Reduce Knee Pain:
Bridge with Pilates Ring Exercise
This exercise strengthens your inner thighs, butt, hamstrings, and core, which are all the muscles to help support the knee. Learning how to activate these muscles all at once will help your body support your knee. Once your knee is supported correctly, you will be pain-free.
How to do Bridge with Pilates Ring Exercise:
- Lying face up, roll your shoulder back and away from your ears, contract your abdominals, and put the Pilates ring in between your thighs
- Inhale to start
- Exhale – You’re going to raise your bum off of the floor by pushing down into your heels and squeeze the Pilates ring about 80%
- Inhale hold for a split second
- Exhale slowly, lowering your bum while still squeezing the Pilates ring around 50%
Suggestion: 12 reps 4 rounds
Equipment needed: ProsourceFit Pilates Resistance Ring 14″ Dual Grip Handles for Toning and Fitness
This was one of the first pieces of Pilates equipment that I bought when I first learned Pilates. It helped fire up my entire core and inner thighs once I put this baby in between my legs.
It was a good ring to fire up all of the required muscles without having to think.
Straight Leg Raises (With or Without Ankle Weights)
This exercise is not straining and it motivates your thigh muscles to strengthen, as well as, your core. When done correctly this exercise can gently strengthen your core, obliques, thighs, and knees without much strain or pain. You can add ankle weights to increase the intensity as you get stronger. I suggest you start with 0.5KG first and then slowly increase the weight.
Straight leg lift strengthens the quadriceps (front of the thigh) with a bit of oblique (side of your abs) on the same side. It stretches the calf’s and the hamstrings, which are the opposing muscles that are tight, pulling onto the back of the knee, causing part of the discomfort. So this is a double win exercise!
You can start with no weights.
How to do Straight Leg Raises:
- Lying down face up, bend one leg with feet on the floor and the other one straight in front of you with feet flexed-
- Inhale to stay
- Exhale while contracting your abs. Start squeezing in so hard that your legs start to lift while keeping your leg straight. Avoid using your hip flexors
- Inhale, Once your feet reach about a 40 – 60-degree height, continue to flex your feet to get a stretch at the back (if you want to feel more of the stretch, raise your leg higher)
- Exhale, slowly lower your leg down to the floor and repeat
Suggestions: 15 raises on each side, 4 rounds
This will add intensity as your knee starts to improve. You will feel that when you get stronger it is less difficult. Therefore, adding ankle weights will make your legs stronger to support your knees. With these weights, you can use it for bum and upper body toning as well.
Equipment Needed: TheraBand Ankle Weights, Set of Two (2.5 lbs Each)
The crab is one of my favorite exercises to teach to my clients. I find that a lot of people have a slipped disc, knee pain, and/or lower back pain, all due to the sides of the bum (gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and piriformis) that are usually very weak. Without these muscles holding your knee into the correct alignment, the placement of your knee is incorrect when it starts bearing weight. (Think about the Eiffel Tower with one leg bent, the bent leg is supporting a lot of weight.)
This exercise is somewhat relaxing as you get to lay on your side, yet it works the side of your bum vigorously.
How to do The crab:
Put the booty band around your thigh above the knee
- Lying sideways, bend your knee slightly
- Place your top arm in front of your body, so you have support to attain yourself upright
- Your bottom arm is supporting your head
- Squeeze your abs and lift up your chest tall
- Inhale to stay
- Exhale and squeeze your butt cheeks together while spreading your knees apart
- Resist against the booty band by continuing to widen the knee
- Inhale to stay
- Exhale, slowly bring the knees together (make sure you resist slowly as it will strengthen the inner thighs at the same time
Suggestions: 20 reps, 4 rounds
Equipment needed: Recredo Booty Bands
Another fav equipment of my home workout equipment! Besides doing “the crab” with this, you can also swap this with a Thera band or vice versa. They have somewhat the same function, however, the Thera band has a few more tricks up its sleeve.
Booty bands are great for outer thigh and outer glute strengthening. It slims down the sides and keeps the knee supported!
Standing Leg Side Raises
This exercise strengthens your side glutes to support the knee upright so it will not collapse inwards causing unnecessary stress on the knee. Standing leg side raise is pretty relaxing and suitable for all ages, I love it because you can do this anywhere, any time!
How to do Standing Leg Side Raises
- Use the thera band – start with the yellow band first as it’s the lightest in intensity. Slowly move to harder ones, green, red, and blue
- Stand beside a chair, with one hand on the back of it for balance
- Place a resistance band around both ankles
- While keeping your shoulders and hips facing forward, lift one leg straight out to the side (try to lead with your heel and keep the knee and toes pointing straight ahead)
- Hold for five seconds, then slowly return to start. That’s one rep.
Make sure you stand up tall with your abs squeezed tight and use the side of the bum to raise the leg sideways.
Suggestion: 15 reps on each side x 4 rounds
Equipment needed: SKLZ Resistance Bands
This is the thera band that I mentioned above. This set provides different intensities that you can switch around depending on how you feel. Some days you may want a light workout and can use the yellow one. And one day you will feel stronger and may want to choose the red one, making it a bit tougher to strengthen your knee even more!
King Arthur’s Pose
This exercise is actually a stretch, however, it is really great as most people overuse their quadriceps, especially if their knees are hyperextended. Loosening up the quads will benefit your knee.
A word of caution: If the quadriceps are overstretched here, it can easily lead to more knee pain. My best advice as a trainer? Keep this pose at 50% (or less) to start.
How to do King Arthur’s Pose
- Place the balance foam pad on the floor against the wall with blocks ready on either side.
- Start in a Tabletop Pose with your bum facing the wall.
- Bring the right shin and top of the foot to the wall (pressing gently into it) and step the left foot forward, coming into a Low Lunge-type position.
- Bring both hands to rest atop the blocks, as you lift your chest and your hip points forward to protect the lumbar spine.
- To deepen the stretch, bring hands to your thigh and slowly bring your bum towards the wall.
Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the other side.
- Gaiam Yoga Block
- I love teaching with yoga blocks, they are small enough to be stored in a cabinet while aiding a lot of poses. It can help with body support and also help with deepening stretches.
- ProsourceFit Exercise Balance Pad
- This is a must-have, especially if you had trauma or surgery to your knee. I use this constantly to cushion the knee when my clients need to be on their knees for certain exercises.
- This also provides a great imbalance tool to strengthen the stabilization muscles that hold the knee upright.
Useful Tips and Resources
If you have a really weak knee, it is better for you to put on knee support to reduce the pressure apply on your joint.
Don’t push yourself too much, your muscles need sometime to warm up and being trained. So bit by bit is always a good idea, at the end of the day you know your body the best so feel free to stop when you are too tired.
Make sure you get enough rest before working out and drink a lot of water, and remember, warming up and sketching before exercise is a must!!!
I hope this helps, give it a go and let me know if it benefits you! If you still experience discomfort or more pain after two weeks, I would suggest that you get an MRI so a specialist can look into it. There might be something more serious going on that you don’t know. If in doubt, please consult a doctor before exercising.
Just drop me a text at whatsapp: +852 4647 1174 or email@example.com if you have any questions!