When it comes to our health, we all know what foods to eat and what to avoid. We know that too much sugar and saturated fats aren’t good for us and that we should limit our alcohol intake. But do we know how to take care of our joints?
Exercise is a vital part of maintaining a healthy body and mind but the joints are the driving force behind these exercises, so it’s important to keep them stable and secure and work carefully to rebuild strength after injury. Our knees are essential to our quality of life, so ensuring they have the strength and stability to support us is vital.
Here are some of the best knee stability-building exercises to help you build strength and stability so you can move with confidence, whether you’re rehabilitating after an injury, or preparing for a fitness competition.
Top 4 Exercises for Knee Stability
Lie on your back keeping your knees bent and your feet hip-distance apart. Squeeze your glutes, lifting your hips as high as possible.
If you can, lift your toes and put all your weight on your heels to work your hamstrings and glutes harder. Lower your hips down for a few seconds before lifting again. Perform 2 or 3 sets of 10 repetitions.
To make this more difficult, add a resistance band around your lower thigh, or add weight over your pelvis. You can also raise one leg to add further difficulty.
This is a good exercise for patellar stability. If this is your first time doing step-ups, start with a 6-inch step. You can work up to a higher step, just make sure it’s no higher than your knee. Begin with both feet on the step, making sure your pelvis is level. Step back on one foot, tap your toe on the floor, then step back up to straighten your leg on the step. Aim to perform this 15-20 times, then swap legs.
The key here is to take it slow. Your aim here is to focus on stability, so go slowly and concentrate on your balance. If you need to, use a wall or friend for support.
To increase the difficulty, use dumbells for additional resistance.
3. Wall Sits
This is another simple exercise you can do at home and is a great one for building surrounding strength and increasing stability. Simply stand with your back against a wall and then step your feet forward. You may need to find the right shoes for this that have grip.
Slowly, slide your back down the wall until you start to feel like holding that position is hard for you. This will depend on your current level of knee strength and stability. When you find that point (make sure you don’t go so deep you feel unable to stand up out of it), hold that position for 10 – 15 seconds, then slide your back up the wall again. You may need to step a foot back to do this, and that’s okay!
As you build strength, go lower down the wall until you can easily hold for 6-8 reps of 15-second holds with your hips and knees at right angles. To make this more difficult, hold for longer. You can also raise a leg off the floor out in front of you if you’re feeling really advanced, or hold a dumbbell in your hands by your chest. This is such a versatile exercise and so good for stability exercises.
4. Straight Leg Raise
Sit in a chair with one knee bent and the other leg straight out in front of you. Lock the knee of the straightened leg, gently bringing it to the height of the bent knee - this will engage the quads and hip flexors. Engage your abdominal muscles to keep your pelvis still. Repeat this ten times for 2-3 sets.
To make this more difficult, combine this exercise with bridges, or use a resistance band tied to the leg of the chair. Remember the focus here is on your knee stability, so make sure you pay attention to your hips and the bent knee. Don’t let either knee wobble.
5. Single-Leg Squat
This one can take some time to build up to, but it’s a good one to work into your workout routine or strengthening routine when you can. To do this, stand beside a wall, chair, or something else to support you and put one heel out in front of you. Then, lower down so your supporting leg is bent beneath you, and then raise back out of the squat.
The goal here is to get to the point where you squat on one leg to a 90-degree angle, without any support, hold for three seconds, and then carefully raise back out of the squat to standing. This will take time! Start by lowering to the point that you start to wobble, and then return to standing. Over time, you’ll see your knee stability drastically improve.
Develop Strong, Healthy Joints
If you’re suffering from joint pain, lack mobility, or are recovering from injury and want to move around more freely, sleep better, release tension, and reduce your risk of injury, you need to not just focus on your knees but your overall joint health and strength.
Our ebook, Joint Health 101 contains detailed programs for knee, shoulder, elbow, hip, ankle, wrist exercises to rehabilitate and prevent future injuries. Strengthening exercises for each listed joint are included in the ebook, so why not start your journey towards pain-free movement today?