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.


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Comments

KHALIA2 12/18/2018
I don't have a knee problem, but I have a friend who does. I will be sure to share these tips with her. Report
97MONTY 12/1/2018
Thanks for the info Report
CATNAP629 11/10/2018
I'm going to try these!!! Report
TCANNO 10/14/2018
thanks Report
SPINECCO 8/6/2018
Great article. Thanks. Report
CHRISINMIAMI 7/26/2018
Thanks! Nice! Report
KELLY48647 7/10/2018
There are some that I can't do, but I will do what I can. I have to do them on my bed since I am not able to get up and down from the floor. These are very similar to some that I currently do in physical therapy sessions. Report
DJ4HEALTH 6/14/2018
thanks Report
KHALIA2 6/13/2018
Great! Thanks for sharing! Report
PATRICIA-CR 6/8/2018
I'm doing them. Report
FISHGUT3 5/17/2018
thanks Report
PAUTCHES1950 5/16/2018
Can't do all of these with knee replacement coming up, but will and have been doing some. Thanks for this tutorial. 😊 Report
AQUAGIRL08 5/7/2018
These are such helpful knee exercises! Thank you! Report
BRUCELANGLEY 4/23/2018
Very helpful exercises that I will add to my routine. Report
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 I’m 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
MOONDRAGON29 3/13/2018
great Article. Report
AMBER461
Thanks for sharing, great blog. Report
GKNIGHT69
Good information! Thank you! Report
I can't do exercises on the floor (can't get up). I do the leg lifts in bed. Works ok for me. Report
Thanks, great article. Report
Definitely going to give these a try - I'm struggling somewhat with arthritis. Report
SUSANBEAMON
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
great article Report
Great ideas! Report
Great ideas. Thanks Report
SPARKPEOPLE1951
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
Good information and exercises for knees. I will follow the doctor's advice. Report
Awesome...thanks!! Report
RO2BENT
Keep moving forward Report
Great! Report
These are very good ones. They are all on my P.T list. Report
These are going on my list to do. Report
Thanks so much for this blog! These exercises have been so helpful to me! Report
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
SPARKYFLOWER
I love this blog, thank you for sharing your information with us. Report