The body’s joints endure countless impacts and strains over a lifetime, which may lead to decreased mobility and other issues. Keeping knees and joints healthy is an important component for overall health, mobility and quality of life.
Important Structures of the knee:
- IT Band: The IT band runs from the pelvis to the knee, and helps stabilize the knee during physical activity.
- ACL: The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the most commonly torn.
- Meniscus: This absorbs shock and protects the knee joint from impact.
Strengthening the muscles that support the knees and other joints can reinforce healthy joint function and support general health. Here are 7 exercises that will help support healthy knees and joints and strengthen the muscles around them. Here are 7 exercises you can use to strengthen healthy knees and joints.
Exercise 1: Stretching
Stretching is particularly important for the iliotibial (IT) band which runs from the hip to the shin and helps stabilize the knee. You can stretch it by standing with the left foot crossed over the right, arms above your head, then lean as far as you can to the left without bending your knee. Then switch legs and lean the other way.
Exercise 2: Lunges
Lunges are intended to increase flexibility and build muscle strength in your quadriceps.
Exercise 3: Step-ups
Step ups (where you stand in front of a step or raised surface, and practice stepping up onto it with one foot, and then the other) can help to strengthen the hamstrings.
Exercise 4: Cycling
This low-impact exercise option strengthens the muscles in the leg and helps the knee to achieve a range of motion.
Exercise 5: Squats
Squats strengthen the gluteus, which in turn supports healthy knees. Keep your knees bent and your back straight when doing squats.
Exercise 6: Jumping rope with bent knees
Jump in front of a mirror if you can, to help maintain your form. Land with your knees slightly bent to help minimize pressure on the joints.
Exercise 7: Leg lifts
Sit in a chair, put a foam roller or towel under your knees, and lift your leg, holding for a few seconds, then switch legs. Do several repetitions.
Bonus Exercise: Yoga
Yoga, as a low-impact activity, can be great for joints when done under qualified direction. It works all of your leg muscles to help keep knees stronger and healthier, and it can promote flexibility, a key aspect of healthy joints. If you have joint concerns, be certain your yoga instructor adapts exercises to your needs and abilities.
Support your knees and other joints by strengthening the muscles that help stabilize them.