How to Strengthen Your Knee

What can I do to strengthen my knee?

Robert FitzGibbons MD-by Dr. Robert FitzGibbons

(The response to this type of question needs to be individualized. )

A younger individual without any significant knee arthritis can be more aggressive in lower extremity strengthening.  There are multiple types of exercises that can be done at home without any equipment or other types of exercise that can be done with gym equipment at a recreation center and/or health club.

Attempting to always use stairs going up and down and avoiding elevators is a simple, yet highly efficient way to work at strengthening your lower extremities as well as working on cardiovascular fitness.

Simple step-ups involve placing one foot on an elevated step (could be even regular stairs in a home) and then lifting the opposite foot off the ground and slowly lowering it and touching the ground and raising up again without pushing off the floor so that you are isolating the quadriceps and hamstring muscles for maximum strengthening and also working on core/balance.

Front-Range-Orthopedics-And-Spine-Knee-Strengthening-Exercises-3Wall sits simply entail putting on a pair of athletic shoes and actually trying to sit leaning against a wall with your back against the wall and lowering your body so that your hip is at a right angle as well as your knee.  Attempting to stay in this position for 30 to 60 seconds isolates your quadriceps muscle in an isometric position and does not put significant load on the patella as some people have e little bit of chondromalacia which is an irregular surface of the cartilage behind the knee cap.

Lower extremity strengthening can also be done in a gym recreation center environment.  I feel that one of the best machines in any gym is the leg press.  This is an apparatus that most commonly you would sit in while placing both feet flat on the plate,

Front-Range-Orthopedics-And-Spine-Knee-Strengthening-Exercises-2The hamstring machine is often done either laying down on your stomach and flexing your feet towards your backside, or some machines sitting upright and pulling your heel towards your bottom.putting a manageable weight on the weight stack and simply flexing/extending the knees and never

flexing past 90 degrees with your knee.  This called a co-contraction in that your quadriceps and your hamstrings have to function for this type of activity, as well as a closed chain exercise which applies less stress to the cartilage of the knee and generally is less stressful to the cartilage.

The leg extension machine is commonly found in all athletic recreation centers/workout facilities, but it is important to be careful with this machine as going from a 90 degree position to a fully extended position puts a maximal stress on the patellofemoral joint (knee cap) and this can often irritate the knee rather than be beneficial.  My preference is to do what is called terminal extensions and this entails placing a pin in the leg extension machine mechanism that only allows you to go from 30 degrees short of full extension to full extension and then back to 30 degrees of flexion.

This isolates the vastus medialis obliquus which is one of the most important quadriceps muscles ion the inside part of your knee.

Obviously, being active and trying to walk short distances instead of driving the car certainly can help work muscle strengthening of the lower extremities.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. FitzGibbons call 303-772-1600

Back to News