Effective Knee Strengthening Exercises At Home (to reduce knee pain)
Prevent and reduce knee pain by using these knee strengthening exercises at home! These knee pain exercises can be done at home with minimal equipment multiple times per week. They help you take back control and enjoy the movement you love (like running, chasing kids, and climbing stairs)
One of the most common complaints I hear from moms (aside from back pain) is knee pain. And unfortunately, pain in your knees while completing physical activity brings on a vicious cycle in which activity is reduced. Instead of avoiding movement though, use these four knee strengthening exercises at home to take back control and enjoy movement.
As females, we’re actually more prone to knee pain than males. This is mainly due to our hip structure and overall strength. Our knees tend to collapse or cave inward (valgus collapse) during simple movements like squats, jumping, running or even on the stairs.
The repetition of this collapse is one of the reasons that our knees hurt. Other causes can be;
- previous injury
- poor mobility
- muscle inactivity
Whatever the cause, in order to get through day to day activities you need strong knees.
How To Strengthen The Knees
Unfortunately, most people go about this the wrong way and opt for only one knee pain exercise which is done in one range of motion: extension. Performing hundreds of leg extensions aren’t the best way to improve strength and function.
What you want to do instead is target the muscles surrounding the knee, the ones that hold it in place. You also want to ensure your basic movement mechanics are technically sound.
Meaning: don’t let your knees cave in when you squat! When it comes to the squat position specifically, while there can be strength or mobility issues more often than not it is just about re-learning to movement pattern and practice.
Knee Strengthening Exercises At Home
The knee pain exercises below help to build strength in the muscles that hold the knees in place. And in my ten years of coaching, I’ve found that one of the best things you can do to help strengthen your knees and reduce pain is to focus on strengthening the glutes (and thus some hip mobility also)
And while it is out of the scope of this blog post, another area to look into if you’re experiencing knee pain is to ensure your quads and calves are not ridiculously tight.
For myself personally, during my running season, if I don’t make flexibility and foam rolling a priority, it’s my knees that feel it. Your body doesn’t work as individual muscles but as a well-oiled machine- so take care of all the parts 😉
Exercise #1 Banded Glute Bridges
Not that I think strong glutes solve life problems or anything.. well actually, I do! Banded glute bridges can be beneficial for a lot of issues from back pain to improving glutes to.. you guessed it, improving your knee strength and reducing pain!
Your glutes are one of the muscles that help keep your knees on the right track when you squat. They are normally under-active due to sitting and lack of contraction so they tend to become weak and not do their job.
By performing banded glute bridges (as well as other at-home glute exercises) you’ll learn how to activate your external rotators which will help reduce your knees caving inwards.
Exercise #2 Clamshells
Remember those old school workout videos of ladies in sweatbands laying on their sides doing clams and abductions? Well, it turns out they had something going for them! Clamshells are just one of the amazing knee strengthening exercises at home.
Our hips play a crucial role in the way we walk, squat, and run so it only makes sense to have strong ones. Clamshells help boost the function of the hips and glutes creating more stability. This stability better provides you the ability to keep your knee in place during movement.
Exercise #3 Stability Ball Squeezes
This exercise targets the inner thighs. While most people make the mistake of thinking that the adductors are pulling the knee in allowing it to cave in (which is partially true) the balance between push and pull is underestimated.
When the adductors are tight or dysfunctional they will almost always win in a battle with the hips and thus cause instability through the pelvis and knees. Learning to both contract and relax is key to the adductors functioning optimally.
It wasn’t until I started focusing on hip mobility (in addition to strength) that I was completely pain free- and damn it felt good.
The other part of training inner thighs is to stretch the adductors. Yup, you read that right. Your inner thighs do like to stay tight and contracted. If you’re going to keep an even balance between push and pull (hips versus inner thigh) you’ll need to spend some time stretching the inner thighs. I personally like using the frog stretch or a lateral hip rocker.
Exercise #4 Single Leg Towel Slides
It’s a very small movement and hits the hamstrings.
The hamstrings are another piece of the puzzle when it comes to knee strengthening exercises at home and knee stability.
Your body must function as a whole to prevent knee pain and that’s where hamstrings come in. Hamstrings normally assist the glutes, however, when neither is strong enough to do the task their often overloaded.
Strengthening and learning how to activate the hamstrings helps keep the knee in proper alignment. Once you can do single leg towel slides either from a chair or lying prone on the floor, try moving up to double leg ones with the hips raised.
To learn how to perform these exercises check out the video below.
How To Use These Knee Strengthening Exercises At Home
This knee pain exercises are all low impact and can be done multiple times (3-4) per week. Strive for 12-20 repetitions of the exercises and 2-3 sets.
So, a mini workout for knee pain relief could look like:
- Glute bridges 2×20
- Clams 2×20
- Squeezes 2×12
- Slides 2×12
Or, you could perform all the exercises as a circuit (one after the other) rest, and repeat again.
If you’re looking to get strong, reduce back pain, and carry kids easier check out my Stronger Glutes For Busy Moms E-book. This 25-page E-book provides you with everything you need to strengthen your glutes at home. You’ll learn about the fundamentals of glute training, and have access to my progressive glute training program. This e-book will take you through: The difference between these glute workouts and sporadic, glute exercises you stumble upon is that these training programs are progressive. Meaning, they build on one another! You’ll learn: Take the guesswork out of your glute training and follow a plan. Learn the best practices to implement when it comes to strengthening glutes and reap the benefits of less back pain and the ability to carry kids easier. Because being strong isn’t optional when you’re a mom. Grab the Stronger Glutes E-book today. (when you click on the button a new window will open that will take you to securely process payment)
Strengthen & Tone Your Glutes… At Home!
If you’re looking to get strong, reduce back pain, and carry kids easier check out my Stronger Glutes For Busy Moms E-book. This 25-page E-book provides you with everything you need to strengthen your glutes at home.
You’ll learn about the fundamentals of glute training, and have access to my progressive glute training program.
This e-book will take you through:
The difference between these glute workouts and sporadic, glute exercises you stumble upon is that these training programs are progressive. Meaning, they build on one another!
Take the guesswork out of your glute training and follow a plan. Learn the best practices to implement when it comes to strengthening glutes and reap the benefits of less back pain and the ability to carry kids easier.
Because being strong isn’t optional when you’re a mom. Grab the Stronger Glutes E-book today.
(when you click on the button a new window will open that will take you to securely process payment)
One More Tip For Knee Strengthening Exercises At Home
When it comes to knee pain, especially when squatting, part of the answer is learning to squat correctly and engage the muscles necessary.
Learning to sink back into the squat (versus initiate the movement by thrusting the knees forward) and engage the glutes by driving the knees out against the band is one of the fastest ways I’ve seen people correct pain.
Remember: Strong Quadriceps Are Not The Answer
Most people think that for knee strengthening exercises at home we need to focus on quadriceps engagement. However, our quads are only one piece of the puzzle. In order to truly help your knees and reduce the pain you need to look at the whole structure that keeps them and your pelvis stable.
Don’t forget to pin these Knee Strengthening Exercises At Home!
If you’re looking to boost your workout performance, improve day to day function, and prevent or alleviate knee pain these knee pain exercises are for you. Don’t underestimate the necessity to train your body to function as a whole instead of trying to hit only one muscle. Implement these knee strengthening exercises and boost your ability to do what you love.