Knee pain is a common complaint that can have multiple causes. Factors such as inactivity, insufficiently treated injuries, poor nutrition and bad posture can all lead to knee pain. Thankfully, there are ways you can strengthen your joints and reduce pain.
One of the best ways to improve your joint health is to stay active. Joints need movement to stay lubricated and healthy. Remember even a little activity is better than no activity, so if you aren’t used to exercising start with something low-impact like walking or swimming to get yourself moving again.
It is important to note however that too much activity can also cause knee pain. High intensity workouts and long-distance runs can be hard on your knees. This makes it important to stretch out the muscles surrounding the knee to keep it pain-free.
There are various muscles that overlap the knee joint, all of which work together to flex and stabalise the knee. This means that when you have pain, it isn’t always clear where the problem lies. Your best bet will be to ensure you are stretching out all the muscles involved.
Try the following stretches to help alleviate knee pain:
Note: Check your symptoms with a doctor first to rule out injury or any other underlying cause.
Wall calf stretch
Calf muscles are often overlooked, but they can become incredibly tight from impact. If they are tight, the pain can travel up to the knee. Find a wall you can lean against and, facing the wall, flex your left foot and put your heel where the floor and the wall meet. Lean towards your leg and hold the stretch for about five seconds before releasing. Repeat 10-15 times and then do the same with your right leg.
Hip and quad stretch
This stretch will work your hip and quad muscles, making it twice as beneficial. Kneel on one knee (feel free to put a towel, mat or cushion under your knee) with your other foot on the ground in front of you. Make a 90 degree angle with both of your legs. Next, grab the ankle of your kneeling leg and pull it towards your buttocks. This provides a deep stretch, so only hold for as long as feels comfortable and if you experience any pain – stop. Move in and out of this stretch for 10-15 reps and repeat on the other side.
Our hamstrings affect our knees a lot more than people think and are often at the root of knee pain. For this stretch you’ll need to lie on your back and prop your leg up on a wall, or use a resistance band. This stretch should start at the back of your knee and radiate downwards. Repeat this stretch 10-15 times on each leg.
Strengthening exercises can be just as important as stretching. Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other outstretched. Lift your outstretched leg and rotate your leg outwards. Do this 10-15 times, alternating legs.