5 Smart Exercises to Support Your Knees

By , Dr. Thomas J. Kleeman, MD
Perhaps the most common question I receive from patients is, ''I can’t exercise because of knee arthritis. What do I do?'' Over 1 in 10 people over the age of 65 suffer from knee arthritis. This can make exercising more challenging. As a result, many people with knee pain from arthritis just stop exercising. This can lead to obesity, loss of muscle tone, worsening of the arthritis and depression. You heard that right--exercise improves knee arthritis, and lack of exercise makes it worse!  If you have knee arthritis, there are some moves you may wish to avoid until your symptoms improve:

1. Bending  the knee while bearing weight
2. Flexing the knee past ninety degrees
3. Stressing the ligaments by leaping from side to side

If the above moves cause you discomfort, below are some alternative exercises that will move the knee joint safely while strengthening all the supporting muscles.
You will want to be on the floor for most of these exercises, so take your time getting down and back up again. Use a thick rug or exercise mat for comfort. If you have a firm mattress, you can even do some of these moves in bed. 

1. Warm up for two minutes by marching in place. This will get all the leg muscles warmed up and will begin to move the knee through a gentle range of motion.

2. Now, gently lay down on your back with your hips flexed and knees bent almost to ninety degrees. Straighten one leg at a time, making a straight line between the thigh and the lower leg. Set the foot back down and alternate with the other leg. Repeat this 30 times with each leg. This strengthens the quad muscles in the front of your thigh.

3. Now, lie on your side with your body straight. Support your head in your hand with a flexed elbow on the mat. Then, raise the upper leg out to the side as far as you feel comfortable. Lower the leg and repeat 10-20 times. Roll over and do the other side. This strengthens the outside muscles, or abductors.

4. Staying on your side, move your lower leg forward in front of the upper leg. Try raising the lower leg up in front of the upper leg using your inner thigh muscles, or 
adductors. Repeat 10-20 times, then roll over and do the other side.

5. Now, roll onto your front using a pillow or your arms to support your head and chest. Start with both legs out straight. Starting on one side, elevate the leg off the mat, keeping the knee straight. Lower the leg back to the mat and repeat 10-20 times. Then, do the other side. This is a great exercise for strengthening the 
hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh.

6. Now, finish off the workout with toe raises. Take your time to get back up to a standing position, and use a wall or bed post for balance. Stand on both feet, raise up your heels as far off the floor as you can and lower them back down. Repeat 30 times.

There you have it! In about 5 minutes, you have strengthened all the important muscles that support your knees. You can add some cardio by doing 20 minutes on a treadmill or exercise bike. Remember to use zero incline on the treadmill, and use the bike on low resistance.






About the Author
Dr. Thomas J. Kleeman, MD, is nationally-renowned orthopedic surgeon and founder of the New Hampshire Neurospine Institute. With the help of his wife Anne, he has become dedicated to the use of exercise and good nutrition as a means of maintaining quality of life during the aging process.  Now 66, he is a cancer survivor who found the benefits of exercise instrumental in his own recovery.  Along with his wife Anne, a registered nurse and certified fitness professional, he has launched MDfitness: The Doctor's Workout on DVD—an easy to follow exercise program designed for people over 40.


Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints

Comments

PRUSSIANETTE 4/19/2018
Great simple, yet effective, exercises. Report
TRIMNUP 4/19/2018
Very encouraging article. Nice to see a male modeling these exercises. The toe raises may SEEM like nothing but they really do make a difference in BALANCE. Report
PAULA3420 4/16/2018
GOOD TIPS!!! I will be using these. Report
GETULLY 4/14/2018
Good ones all! Need to add some of these to my daily. Report
NOLAHORSERIDER 4/14/2018
Good information. I do some of these and learned about some others. WooHoo!!! Report
SABLENESS 4/14/2018
Already doing most of these before getting out of bed. Good to know Iím on the right track. Report
IAMAUNTYEM 4/13/2018
I cannot do floors; but I can do bed -- all but the toe raises can be done before I get up in the mornings. 8-) Report
JANET552 4/11/2018
Great info Report
BONNIE1552 4/11/2018
Will remember this when tempted to leap from side to side as in some videos. Report
KHALIA2 4/9/2018
I don't have knee problems, but I have a friend who does. I will be sure to share this one with her. Report
OLDSKOOL556 3/18/2018
Great Blog thanks for sharing Report
ROSSYFLOSSY 3/17/2018
Great article! Report
SHADOWDRAGON19 3/13/2018
great Article. Report
AMBER461 11/25/2017
Thanks for sharing, great blog. Report
GKNIGHT69 11/14/2017
Good information! Thank you! Report
SUSAN727 11/8/2017
I can't do exercises on the floor (can't get up). I do the leg lifts in bed. Works ok for me. Report
_CYNDY55_ 10/31/2017
Thanks, great article. Report
TIZSLIM 10/30/2017
Definitely going to give these a try - I'm struggling somewhat with arthritis. Report
SUSANBEAMON 7/24/2017
My knees don't like these exercises, especially when I try to get up from the floor. That's a bigger workout than any of these. Report
RAZZOOZLE 7/17/2017
great article Report
HOLLYM48 7/17/2017
Great ideas! Report
MBPP50 7/17/2017
Great ideas. Thanks Report
SPARKPEOPLE1951 7/17/2017
Boy those exercises reminds me of the ones I did years ago with Jack Lalone
Seems like I should start doing them again. I have just started having knee pain, I'm not sure if it's from arthritis or not. I will give it a try. Thanks Report
MSROZZIE 7/16/2017
Good information and exercises for knees. I will follow the doctor's advice. Report
SISTERPRETTY 7/16/2017
Awesome...thanks!! Report
BARCELONAME 7/16/2017
Great Report
RO2BENT 7/16/2017
Keep moving forward Report
LIS193 7/16/2017
Great! Report
PICKIE98 7/16/2017
These are very good ones. They are all on my P.T list. Report
NANASUEH 7/16/2017
These are going on my list to do. Report
NEPTUNE1939 7/16/2017
great Report
HEALTHYANDFIT27 7/16/2017
Thanks so much for this blog! These exercises have been so helpful to me! Report
JULIENSMITH 4/29/2017
These will be a good addition to my daily routine. Thanks. Report
These look helpful, thanks! Report
This is a very good blog. I just finished my PT and we did some of these exercises. I will be sure to add them to my routine! Report
I love this blog, thank you for sharing your information with us. Report
I do these on the floor, and then the next day I do pretty much the same moves standing up with an elastic resistance band around my ankle. Then I sit on the bench and do extensions from the knee with the elastic still around my ankle. I can do them all without holding on, helps with balance too. These two sets of exercises have just about eliminated pain from hips and knees. Report
My knees have been bothering me quite a bit, so I went to my doctor to see what I can do to lose weight while helping my knees. His response was that if I lose weight, my knees would be in better shape. He had no other suggestion on how to lose weight with bad knees. Can you sense my frustration? Do doctors even listen anymore? I have lost total confidence in the medical field.

This article gave me a lot more information than my own doctor gave me.

Thanks. Report
Thank you! This is the first "how to exercise bad knees" article that I've ever read that didn't say to do squats and lunges!! Has always made me wonder if the person writing the articles even knew what a "bad" knee is! These are actually exercises that can strengthen the knee without putting added weight on the joint. Report
my physical therapist had me do the side and rear leg raises while standing and they work very well.

Also add wall squats if you can't do regular squats due to weight or knee issues. wall squats let you do a squat while the wall takes half your weight so the knees are doing SOME weight bearing, but not bearing ALL your weight. Report
I have multiple exercise DVD's that incorporate these exercises.Great article! Report
I have multiple exercise DVD's that incorporate these exercises.Great article! Report
I do most of these as part of my after knee replacement PT. I think I'll add #4 and #5. And I can't get on the floor, so I do them on my bed. Report
I don't do floor, either, but a YouTube search will help you find excellent seated exercises that might not be on SparkPeople. 8-) Report
Thank you! I am having knee replacement surgery soon. First one leg and then the other. I have not been exercising except upper body strength training because of pain. I love these! Report
I will give these a try. The one thing that keeps my motivation low is knee pain. I can't really do lunges and squats are somewhat problematic. Wish me luck! Report
Great exercises
Report
Fantastic article!!!! Report
Really appreciate these moves for my knees. Now, is there anything you can suggest to ease slight hip stiffness and pain that makes getting to 10,000 steps difficult? Report
ARMAKALI
Thanks ! I suffer from severe pain in all my joints - ie elbow, shoulder and knees whilst bending or climbing down the steps. Will surely start these knee exercises.
will be of great help If you can suggest some neck exercises also. Thank you once again. Report
 
Close email sign up
Our best articles, delivered Join the millions of people already subscribed Get a weekly summary of our diet and fitness advice We will never sell, rent or redistribute your email address.

Magic Link Sent!

A magic link was sent to Click on that link to login. The link is only good for 24 hours.