Exercises for Knee Problems

By Darin McGilvra

golf ball on a tee
Not much can ruin a good round of golf more than an injury, especially to the knee, which means limping around the golf course and causing you to be off-balance while attempting to hit the ball. Here are a few exercises you can do to help with a knee problem and prevent further injury. When doing strengthening exercises, it is important not to do the same muscle groups on consecutive days to give them enough time to recover and to avoid injury. Also, slowly build up strength. Listen to your body to know when you have reached your limit.

Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises

There are plenty of aerobic exercises that will help you lose weight or stay in shape to take strain off the knee. These include walking, swimming, riding a bike (stationary or otherwise) or using an elliptical trainer. Many of these are also a good way to warm up by doing it for about five minutes before attempting to do any strength training to avoid injury.

Stretching

It is important to stretch before doing any strengthening exercise and after warming up. You will want to focus on stretching the calf muscles, the hamstrings and the quadriceps. Hold the stretches for 30 to 60 seconds and do not bounce.

Quadriceps Strengthening

Because the quadriceps control the straightening of the knee, it is important to keep them strong to support the knee. Some exercises you can do for this include leg lifts (one leg at a time) and squats. Do these 10 times (hold the leg lift for three seconds). As you build strength you can add more sets of 10.

Hamstring Strengthening Curls

Hamstrings control the bending of the knee, so it is also important to keep the hamstrings strong to support the knee. One way is to do curls. While lying on your stomach, pull your foot toward your buttocks while your leg is being resisted by the other one. Hold this for 10 seconds before resting for three. This can also be done in sets of 10.

Balancing Knee Exercise

A balancing knee exercise also will help with stability in the knee. Balance on each leg for one minute. Do not lean to one side. You may want to hold onto a chair or a sturdy table to keep your balance. As your balance improves, you can use just one hand, then one finger, and finally don't hold onto anything.

Exercises After Knee Replacement Surgery

After knee replacement surgery and all the new options available to those considering having it done, you could find your way back on a course. First you have to strengthen your new knee, and that can be done through exercise and rehabilitation.

Early Exercises

It is amazing how quickly you can start to work your knee after surgery. Often, you can begin the rebuilding process while still in the recovery room. Here are a few good exercises to try with your doctor's permission.

Quad tightening involves sitting or lying down in bed, tightening the muscles in your quad and straightening the knee. Hold the position for five to 10 seconds. Try doing this one 10 times in two minutes.

Leg raises are another beneficial exercise. In bed, tighten your quads and straighten the knee then bring your entire leg up and hold it at a 30 to 45 degree angle for 10 seconds. Do this until your quad begins to tire.

Calf pumps are another good exercise. Remain in bed and flex your toes and foot back and forth, feeling the muscles in your calf and shin contract and release. Do this whenever you have time until your lower leg muscles feel tired.

Perform the knee bend. While still in bed, put a small rolled-up towel or roll of toilet paper just above the ankle so the leg is just up off the bed. Squeeze your quadriceps, straighten the leg and then try to touch the back of the knee to the bed.

Early Activities

Once your surgeon tells you that it is OK to get up and start moving around, you'll want to be careful with the new knee. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, the best way to rehabilitate after knee replacement surgery is to start walking around.

In the beginning, you'll most likely need a set of crutches or a walker. Your doctor should be able to tell you how much weight you can put on the knee.

Once you are ready, start applying weight to the surgically repaired knee joint. Initially, walking will involve placing the heel of your straight leg down in front of you and then slowly moving over it, foot flat on floor until your foot revolves up to your toes. As you get more accustomed to it, you'll begin to be able to move in a smooth motion.

Eventually, two or three weeks down the line, you'll be able to move around with the help of just a single crutch.

Advanced Exercises

Once you are able to go short periods of time without the help of a walker or crutches, you can begin building the strength back up in the limb. Since your leg has been out of action for some time, the muscles around the knee have also lost strength. Here are some advanced exercises that will start to get the mobility and muscle back in your leg.

Standing knee bends are relatively simple. Find something to support your standing weight and, using that for balance, bend your knee as far as you can and hold it for five to 10 seconds then bring it back down. Repeat the motion until you feel fatigue in the limb.

Assisted knee bends are another good move. Lay down and, using a towel or resistance band wrapped around the ankle, begin pulling your heel towards your buttocks. Go as far as you can until you start to feel mild discomfort. Hold that position for five to 10 seconds and then let the leg straighten out.

An exercise bike is excellent for both building strength and mobility in the limb. The nice thing about a stationary bike, as opposed to actual road biking, is that you can set the tension and keep the workout consistent from start to finish.

About the Author

Darin McGilvra is a writer in Southern California. He has been a writer since 1997. He worked as a sports writer and copy editor for newspapers for more than 12 years before becoming a freelance writer. His articles have appeared recently in "The Californian" newspaper in Temecula, Calif. McGilvra holds a Bachelor of Arts in mathematics education from Northwest Nazarene College.