Exercises for Knee Pain and Weakness
By Mary Ann Wilson, RN
Q. It is difficult for me to stand up from my chair and to go up steps. My knee is weak and painful with these activities. What is the cause, and is there anything I can do to help it?
A. It sounds like the muscles of your knee are weak, and perhaps you have some arthritis in your knee. An examination done by your doctor would help to confirm whether you have arthritis or if there is another reason for your pain.
One of the best things to do when you have knee pain and weakness is to strengthen the weak muscles around the knee, and stretch any tight muscles. The muscle group on top of the thigh is called the quadriceps. It is connected to the kneecap and the leg bone below the kneecap. It straightens the knee. It is the muscle that you use when standing from a chair or going up steps. The muscles on the back of the thigh are called the hamstrings. They bend the knee. For the knee to be properly “balanced,” both groups need to be strong. The calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) also span the back of the knee joint and help to balance the knee.
If you have a great deal of knee pain going up stairs or standing up from a chair, or if your knee is swollen or “hot”, you should to do isometric exercises. In this type of exercise, the muscle tightens, but the joint does not move. These exercises do not stress the joint, but do strengthen the muscles.
If you don’t have severe knee pain, but you notice that your knees are weak, you can do another type of exercise to help strengthen your knee. These exercises move the knee through a range of motion as they help to strengthen the knee.
Isometric Knee Exercises
If you have high blood pressure, you should check with your doctor before doing isometric exercises. It is important to breathe during the exercise; we have a tendency to hold our breath when we are doing isometric exercises. This can increase the pressure around your heart. It is best to inhale before the effort portion of the exercise, and to exhale during the effort portion. DO NOT HOLD YOUR BREATH !