How Can You Strengthen the Knee Joint?

Reasons to Strengthen the Knee Joint

Weakness of the knee joint can lead to many problems including pain and even arthritis. It is extremely important to keep the muscles around the knee strong. This will help to protect the ligaments and cartilage around the knee. In fact, most sports injuries occur when the muscles have fatigued from the athlete not having good strength in the knee.

How to Strengthen the Knee Joint

The two key muscles to work on to strengthen the knee joint are the quadriceps and the hamstrings. The quads are in the front of your leg from the hip down to the kneecap (patella). A good exercise for the quads is squats. I prefer my patients doing this against the wall to protect the lower back and not going too deep. Going down just 45 degrees is usually enough to get stronger legs and not put too much stress on the knees. If you cannot squat, straight leg raising puts minimal stress on the knees and almost everyone can do these. Lie flat on the ground face-up, then lift both legs together with the knees locked straight going up about 20-30 degrees. I do not suggest knee extension exercises because this puts too much stress on the kneecap joint and can cause more pain and lead to arthritis of the knee.

Other Muscles that Strengthen the Knee Joint

The other muscles to strengthen for your knee joint is the hamstrings. This group of large muscles sits behind your thigh. Knee curls are a great exercise for strengthening the knee and if you go to a gym use this machine. Another great exercise for hamstring strengthening is box jumps. Start with box that is not too high and simply jump up and back down from it. Make sure your balance is okay so you don’t fall.

All of these exercises should be done slowly and with little resistance at first. As you feel stronger, increase the number of reps and sets. I prefer getting to 15-20 reps and 3 sets. Try and do these three times each week. If your knee feels painful or swollen after, put ice on it and back off from how much you were doing. If pain persists or you cannot even do simple exercises call your orthopedic sports specialist and get it checked out.

Dr. Rick Weinstein, MD, MBA is an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine. He is the Director of Orthopedic Surgery at Westchester Sport and Spine and has subspecialty training in knee and shoulder surgery, including minimally invasive surgery and arthroscopy. Dr. Weinstein is a Board Examiner for the American Board of Orthopedic Surgeons, determining certification for other orthopedic surgeons.