Treat Chronic Knee Pain With These 4 Exercises That Improve Joint Health
Don’t Suffer From Chronic Knee Pain
The occasional knee pain happens to almost every individual. Yet, when the pain is constant and does not go away, a deeper reason may exist. Chronic knee pain occurs when 1 or both knees experience reduced range of motion (ROM), pain, swelling, and stiffness. There are many causes and reasons for chronic knee pain, but in most cases, the underlying issue needs to be addressed. The right targeted exercises can improve joint pain and lower the chances of requiring more advanced treatments, like surgery.
Risk factors and causes of knee pain
There’s almost always an underlying reason for chronic knee pain. For instance, a past injury may have led to long-term pain, stiffness, and discomfort. Overuse from long periods of standing, walking, jumping, or sports can also damage the knees. However, most cases are linked to arthritis, the general wear and tear of cartilage and bone. This degradation of the joint leads to pain, stiffness, and clicking sensations when moving. The knee is a complex joint, and there could be multiple reasons for the condition. Tendinitis, bursitis, and cysts are other common causes. There could also be a pre-existing injury like a ligament tear, meniscus damage, or fracture. For any signs of chronic pain, see a doctor immediately. The doctor may incorporate these 4 exercises to improve joint health as part of treatment.
1. Leg raises
Improving knee health involves strengthening the entire leg. The muscles around the knee provide excellent support for movement and minimize pain by reducing the strain placed on the joint. Straight leg raises strengthen the quadriceps, which is vital for knee support. Perform the exercise lying face up with the left leg straight and the right leg bent. Tighten the muscles of the straight leg, then raise the left leg without bending the knee. Raise this leg to the height of the other bent leg or as high as possible. Bring the leg back down to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
2. Curl it up
Performing a leg curl targets the hamstrings, another critical muscle group for reducing knee pain. Hamstrings are at the back of the thigh and contribute to knee stability. To perform a leg curl, stand upright with feet shoulder-width apart. Use a wall or table for added stability. Bend the knee and curl the leg until the back of the heel reaches near the buttocks. Hold the leg up for a few seconds, then return to the starting position. Switch legs and continue the exercise as recommended. Hamstring curls can also be done lying down, using a resistance band or weight.
3. Use a wall
Squats are an excellent exercise for the lower body, especially the knees. A deep squat may be challenging, but a wall squat can provide similar benefits. Wall squats target the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes and stabilize the knees. Stand straight with the back flat against the wall, keeping the feet shoulder-width apart. Next, slide the back along the wall, bending the knees and moving the buttocks toward the floor. When the thighs and hips are at 90 degrees, with the knees above the ankles, hold the position for 10-15 seconds. Return to the starting position and repeat as necessary.
4. Step to strengthen
Another excellent exercise to strengthen the knee and engage the surrounding muscles is a step-up. First, find a stable platform, step, or step-up exercise box at a local gym. Face the step, standing shoulder-width with straight shoulders. Place a foot on the step, then drive through the heel to lift the body up on the step. Next, step back down with the same leg, then switch to placing the opposite leg on the step. Alternate to perform 10-15 repetitions or as many as a physical therapist or trainer advises.
Joint health matters
Long-term joint health is critical for movement, especially with age. A lack of movement and exercise can lead to repetitive injuries, arthritis, and reduced quality of life. These exercises are easy on the joint and can improve strength and mobility. Although these exercises are effective, chronic knee pain may indicate an underlying issue that an orthopedic surgeon or specialist should assess. From there, there are both non-surgical and surgical options to reduce pain and improve the quality of life.
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