When you’re experiencing orthopedic pain, you may be tempted to reach for a bottle of painkillers or look into surgical options to relieve your discomfort. However, long-term usage of painkillers can be harmful to your body, and invasive procedures may not be necessary to relieve the pain you’re experiencing. If you are looking for alternative yet proven ways to relieve yourself from discomfort in your knees, here are a few exercises to try, recommended by physical therapists around the country.
Full Squat Stretch
The idea of squatting with knee pain may make you shudder in horror, but doing this regularly can actually strengthen your knees. The key is to not put too much of the work onto your knees – let your hips and legs do some of the work, too! This is a great knee pain relief exercise that will make a difference even if you only do it a few times a week.
With your feet straight ahead and knees slightly bowed out, lower your buttocks straight down to the floor, getting as low as you can. Hold for a few seconds, and then slowly straighten your legs out. You may not be able to lower too much at first, but with doing this for a few minutes each day, gradually increasing to 10 minutes a day, will help increase your mobility.
You’ve probably done a bridge pose at some point in your childhood, but this is also a great exercise to take into adulthood. Not only is it beneficial in strengthening your knees, but it helps stabilize the spine and can even improve digestion.
To begin, lay on your back and bend your knees. Your feet should be flat and in line with your hips and knees, arms down at your sides. Squeeze the muscles in your buttocks and lift your hips into the air, making a bridge with your back. Hold this position for a few seconds, and then slowly lower your buttocks back to the ground. Doing 10-15 reps, 3 sets, a few times a week should help you gain strength in your legs and knees and reduce pain.
One way to reduce knee pain is to shift the work into the muscles around your knee. That way your knees aren’t taking the brunt of it when you’re working or exercising. By strengthening muscles like your calves, they can take on more of the stress for you and relieve knee pain.
To do a calf raise, simply stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips, or use the back of a chair or a nearby wall to keep yourself steady. Slowly and deliberately, lift up onto the balls of your feet, hold for a few seconds, and then lower yourself back to a flat-foot position. Do 2 or 3 sets of ten lifts a few times a week for stronger calf muscles, and you’ll slowly start to see the difference in the stress put on your knees. As you progress and gain strength over time, you can add an extra challenge to this exercise by holding light weights as you lift.