Knee Stability Exercises – Everything You Should Know
There is probably not a single person who hasn’t experienced a knee pain. If the pain and injury is not severe, simple home treatments like RICE therapy along with pain killers will resolve this pain and get you back on your feet.
However, simple home treatments do not affect the underlying factors that led to knee pain and injuries. They just relief the symptoms and accelerate the healing process. Over time, if contributing factors aren’t corrected, the repair of frequent damage caused by activities may become impossible, leading to more serious conditions that are hard to treat.
People usually don’t think about underlying factors until they start having knee problems more often. Because many sports injuries are primarily caused by the overuse, people usually think that simple rest with lower intensity training will resolve the problems.
However, it is important to know that not a single sports injury is caused just by the overuse. There are always additional factors like improper footwear, muscle strength, weaknesses, imbalances, biomechanical factors etc. Thankfully, most of these factors can be corrected with proper footwear, knee supports and exercises.
Having a stable knee is important for both recovery and prevention of injuries. If you keep your knee joint strong and mobile, there is less chance for knee pain and injuries.
Getting a proper shoes for walking is the first step in successful management of knee pain and injuries. Shoes with enough padding and cushioning are the best choice for those who have knee problems. They will absorb more shock and offload knee and its structures, allowing them to not only heal properly after injury, but also prevent from new injuries and problems.
Exercises are the main tool for improving the stability of your knees. Because multiple muscles overlap the knee joint, it is important to include all of them in your exercises in order to achieve stable knee joint. Moreover, other muscles that don’t overlap knee joint like hips, glutes, core are also important for knee stability.
If you’re not sure what exercises you should do in order to achieve and improve your knee stability, I got you covered. Join me as I discuss some of the best knee stability exercises that will ease your knee pain and other knee problems.
What muscles you should train for knee stability and why?
As I’ve previously mentioned, both leg muscles that overlap and don’t overlap the knee joint are important for keeping the knee stable.
Quadriceps muscles on the front of the thigh are one of the most important knee stabilizers. This muscle group, as the name suggests, consists of four muscles - rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedialis and vastus medialis. They play a key role in extension of the knee joint.
Hamstring muscles on the back of your upper leg are also important for proper functioning of the knee joint. This group consist of 3 muscles that have an important role in bending the knee. Knee bending is key motion in every weight bearing activity like walking, running, jumping and climbing stairs.
Calf muscles on the back of your lower leg are important for coordination of knee and ankle joints and therefore also have a role in knee stabilization.
Many people forget about the importance ofglutes and hips for knee stabilization. Glutes control several hip motions (extension, abduction, rotation) and are also important for the so called ‘’Q angle’’. Q angle is the angle in which the thigh bone or femur sits in the hip socket. Small Q angle will turn your toes inward, putting more stress on the knees.
Some of the best knee stability exercises
I will share with you some of the best knee stability exercises in my opinion. These exercises are divided by muscle groups so you won’t miss out any muscle group that is important for the stability of your knee. Moreover, they are easy to perform, quick, effective and suitable for almost anyone.
Quadriceps muscles strengthening exercises
Walls squats put less stress on knees while strengthening the quads in comparison to usual squats.
- Stand with your back against the wall with feet apart and toes pointing forwards.
- Slide down the wall slowly and bend your knees.
- Hold for a couple of seconds.
- Return to starting position.
- Repeat 10-25 times, two times daily
If you want to make this exercise harder, you can gradually increase the depth of your dip and/or hold the squat position longer.
- Stand facing the bottom of the stairs
- Step up onto the first stair with the leg you want to strengthen.
- After that step onto the stair with the other leg
- Step both feet back down without turning around.
- Repeat 10-30 times, two times daily
- Stand sideways on top of a step.
- Lower leg that you want to strengthen down to the floor and then bring it back up
- Keep your other foot up on the step during the whole exercise
- Repeat 5-20 times, two times daily
Glutes and hamstrings strengthening exercises
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor.
- Lift your buttocks into the air
- Your body needs to be straight from your shoulders to your knees.
- Slowly return to your primary position.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times, 2 times daily
Kickbacks is a simple exercise that will strengthen your hamstrings and improve your knee joint mobility.
- Stand up straight and hold on to something stable (chair, table etc.).
- Lift your foot up towards your bottom as far as you can, bending the knee.
- Hold for a couple of seconds
- Repeat 5 to 25 times, 2 times daily
When you’re ready and want to make this exercise more challenging, add a weight on your leg like shoe or ankle weight.
Calf muscles are important for proper coordination of ankle and knee joints during weight bearing activities like running, walking, jumping etc. Having strong calf muscles will not only stabilize and coordinate these joints, it will distribute stress more evenly and prevent injuries.
- Hold onto a stable surface like wall or chair for proper balance
- Bend your right leg and step back with your left leg
- Slowly straighten your left leg behind you
- Press your left leg towards the floor until you feel the tension in the Achilles tendon and calf muscles.
- Hold on for 20 seconds
- Repeat 5 times then switch sides
- Stand on one leg while holding onto something solid like chair or a wall.
- Rise on your toes while slowly lifting your heels of the ground
- Hold for a couple of seconds then slowly get back to your primary position
- Repeat 10 to 30 times, two times daily
Although these previously described exercises are primarily for strengthening the leg muscles, they will also stabilize your knee and prevent injuries. This is possible because of the importance of leg muscles for proper mobility and strength of the knee. Weak leg muscles cause less support for the knees, resulting in more stress on your knees and therefore higher chance for knee injuries.
There are so many knee stability exercises that it can be hard to know where to start. I hope that with this text I’ve answered most of your questions when it comes to these exercises, so you can start doing them and eliminate knee pain and recurring injuries.
It is also important to know that exercises are just a part of proper management of knee injuries. Proper fitting shoes are also important for prevention. If you’re not sure what type of shoes you should buy, I’ve made a list with some of thebest running shoes for knee pain that are currently available on the market.
If your not sure if you’re ready to start your exercises, you should consider getting some type of knee support like braces, sleeves or straps. You can also check my review of best knee sleeves for running that I’m sure will make your choice easier.
Finally, do not remember about stretching exercises. Strong muscles that are not flexible enough can only make the problems worse.
Meta description: What are the best knee stability exercises? Why are they helpful? How are they performed? Read all about them in my newest article, and discover the different types of exercises, what they do, and how they are used to help anyone with knee pain and similar conditions.