The knee is one of our most crucial body parts. It plays an important part in our overall body fitness. That is the reason Knee injuries are usually of grave concern as knee injuries have the potential to significantly impair an individual's mobility or put in plain words- ability to walk or run.
But, knee injuries are not only the culprit that makes the knee inactive or defective. There are various systemic conditions, specifically few bone diseases like arthritis (osteoarthritis) that also significantly affects the knee joint. However, irrespective of the reason causing knee defects / injuries, exercises play a vital role in the healing process. In fact, Exercises play much more important role than medications in fast recovery from the knee injuries and disorders. In this article, though, we will focus on few extremely helpful exercises that facilitates the fast recovery process from knee injuries. But, before diving further deep into the topic, let's get ourselves acquainted with knee injuries, its types & causes in brief.
To start with, knee is made up of the following components- bone, ligaments, fluid & cartilage. Muscles & tendons present in the knee joint helps the part to stay mobile. Understandable, when one of these structures get injured / hurt or is affected due to any systemic conditions / diseases, knee defect / injuries occur.
Knee injuries are characterized by extreme localized or overall pain, swelling, redness and causes severe impairment in walking activities.
Knee injuries can be caused due to any accidents, sports activities or by simply awkward twisting of any one of the ligaments or tendons present in the knees. Treatment procedures for knee injuries usually contains a blend of medications & physical therapies (which mainly includes exercises), but in few cases surgical interventions (such as knee replacement surgery) becomes necessary. In those cases, exercise becomes the only route to recover.
Some of the major knee injuries include but are not limited to-
a. Anterior cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries- Very common in people who are very active in sports such as- soccer, basketball. It usually occurs due to the drastic direction change of the knees which in turn injure the ACL which is one of the connecting ligaments between shinbone & thighbone.
b. Fractures- It is the second most common cause for knee injuries. Apart from injuries, fractures can also be caused due to osteoporosis which gradually weaken the bones.
c. Torn Meniscus
d. Knee bursitis
e. Patellar tendinitis usually affects the avid runners, skiers, cyclers, etc.
Knee injuries can also be caused by some other body conditions like- excessive body weight which puts pressure on the legs, to be precise on the knees, dislocated kneecap (which can be treated through a knee replacement surgery), gout, rheumatoid arthritis, due to relapse or getting hurt on a previous knee injury site, due to decrease strength and flexibility of the muscles (may be caused by any number of reasons) and last but not the least due to participation in any type of dangerous sports.
However, irrespective of signs, symptoms & causes, healing from knee exercises with relatively fast and naturally involve exercises. Types & sets of exercises depends on the nature, severity & type of knee injury and must be prescribed and authorized by the caregiver. Additionally, those exercises can only be done under guidance & supervision of a trainer. Here are few example of relatively simple knee exercises, that usually helps in healing knee injuries.
Exercise 1-Leg straightening & stretching.
Lie on your back preferably on a hard. Flat surface. Next, bend your one knee and place the foot on the flat surface. Then, straighten the other leg and raise it in air at the level of the bended knee. This makes the quadricep muscles of the thigh work and puts put very little or negligible strain on the knees. To get the best results, the exercise should be repeated daily 10-15 times in two-three sets. It is recommended to start with low frequency initially and gradually increase the frequency and number of sets gradually and slowly.
Exercise 2- Hamstring exercises
This exercise is relatively simpler than the other ones and can be done anywhere, anytime. This simple and easy exercise is known to benefit the knee joint b strengthening the hamstring muscles that are present in the back portion of the thigh and are important for proper knee joint functioning.First, stand on a flat surface, preferably on the floor. Then slowly raise heel of one let as close as possible to one's butt and is required to stay / hold in that position for 25-30 seconds. Later, with practice the duration can be increased to even 1 minute. Then, repeat the same with the other leg. This exercise is also commonly known as "Hamstring curls".
This exercise should be done minimum 15-20 times a set for 4-5 sets daily.
Exercise 3- Squats
Squat is known to be extremely beneficial exercise for knee injuries. The position required to perform this special exercise, work up the knee muscles and charge them up leading to fast healing from the injuries. This exercise is an advanced form of knee exercise.
First, one need to stand straight against a wall or a sturdy, flat and hard surface. Secondly, after standing, one needs to spread their legs apart in line with their shoulder-width. Next, bend very lowly keeping your back straight against the wall / surface. Hold on to that position for 15-20 seconds. But, if one feels uncomfortable, it is recommended to immediately stop doing the exercise.
It is usually good for the knees if done regularly 10-12 times in 3-4 sets / daily.
Exercise 4- Calf raising exercise
Stand with back facing to a chair / sturdy table. One can also stand in front of a wall. Get your hands on the wall surface if needed for supporting your body weight without straining the knees. Then, slowly raise your heels as high as possible by you. Hold on to the raised heel position for 10-15 seconds and then slowly, very slowly lower your heels in the normal position.
Repeat the exercise daily 10-15 times for at least 3 sets.This exercise helps the knee to get in better shape and help to recover fast from injuries.
Exercise 5- Step ups exercise
Very common and extremely helpful exercise for knee injuries.
One can use staircase for this one or can also use a raised but flat platform. Keeping one's pelvic level steady, put one foot on the raised level and then slowly bend your knee and then raise your knee. Next, repeat this exercise with the other foot.
Recommended daily 10-15 times for 4 – 5 sets. Once comfortable and well-practiced, one can raise / increase the height of the platform gradually. The above mentioned are few very easy and simple exercises that are known to benefits knees recovering / healing from injuries. But, one should always remember that of doing any of knee exercises makes you uncomfortable or increases pain, swelling of the knees, then stop exercising immediately and consult your doctor / trainer / care provider without further delay. Staying alert and cautious are the keys.