5 Low-impact exercises to help ease knee pain

Whether it’s a sharp, stabbing pain or a dull sensation in the joint, knee pain can put a strain to your favorite activities.

It’s a common complaint that affects men and women, and both younger and older adults. In fact, the Cleveland Clinic estimates that 18 million people see a doctor for knee pain each year. It may occur due to an injury, a preexisting medical condition or a certain risk factor, such as excess weight.

To alleviate knee pain, you need stronger muscles. Sitting down and letting it go away on its own will not always help you deal with the pain. Weak and underused muscles force the joints to do more work, leading to wear and tear over time. It’s important to build strong muscles through low-impact exercises to lift the weight straining your joints. This requires working on the muscles throughout your legs, hips and core, and not just your knees. (: Understanding the causes and treatments of joint pain.)

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You can follow these five low-impact exercises to ease knee pain. The only equipment you’ll need is a yoga block or a low step.

Straight leg lifts (5 reps per side)

This exercise strengthens your quadriceps, core and hips.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Put your palms face down beside your body.
  2. Straighten your right leg down the mat and flex your foot.
  3. Inhale as you lift your right leg about a foot off the ground. Hold for 5 seconds and squeeze your quads and lower abs. Then, slowly lower your leg back down.
  4. Repeat for 5 reps before switching legs.

Heel slides (10 reps per side)

This exercise stabilizes the backs of your knees and strengthens your hamstrings.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Put your arms down beside your body.
  2. Straighten your right leg down the mat and flex your right foot. Maintain a slight bend in the knee.
  3. Exhale as you slide your right heel in toward your right glute, bending the knee.
  4. Inhale as you slide your foot back out until the leg is almost straight down the mat.
  5. Repeat for 10 reps before switching legs.

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Step up (5 reps per side)

This exercise strengthens your thighs, hips and core.

  1. Stand in front of a yoga block or a low step on the lowest height. Put your hands on your hips.
  2. Put your right foot up onto the step, engage your abs and lift your back foot off the ground.
  3. Balance this position for 5 seconds, then slowly lower back down.
  4. Repeat for 5 reps before switching legs.

Wall squat (5 reps)

This is an easy version of usual squat exercises. It provides extra support to your knees and strengthens your thighs and core.

  1. Stand with your back against a wall, then walk your feet forward about 2 to 3 feet. Put your arms straight out in front of you and engage your abs.
  2. Get into a squat by sliding your hips down the wall until they’re perpendicular to your knees. If you’re new to this exercise or it feels like too much, you can try to slide down about halfway.
  3. Engage your quads and inner thighs and really press down through your feet. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds, then press through your heels to stand back up.
  4. Repeat for 5 wall squats.

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Calf raises (10 reps)

This simple exercise helps prevent weak ankles and calves, which can lead to knee pain and instability.

  1. Stand next to a wall or chair. Put your left hand on the wall and your right hand on your hip. Bring your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Inhale as you lift high onto the balls of your feet. Flex your calves at the top and hold for 3 seconds, then lower your heels back down.
  3. Repeat for 10 calf raises.

Remember to warm up by walking for five to 10 minutes to get your knee joints lubricated and warm. Practice these exercises two to three times a week to strengthen your muscles and ease knee pain.

Sources include:

Healthline.com

MayoClinic.org

Blogs.PaleoHacks.com

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You can do things to help you sleep better at night. You can avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime. Also, while alcohol is well-known to help you fall asleep faster, too much close to bedtime can disrupt sleep in the second half of the night as the body begins to process the alcohol.

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