Knee injuries and arthritis can quickly cause weakening of the quadriceps and other muscles surrounding your knee. Sometimes weak muscles can themselves cause knee pain.

Here are 8 simple exercises you can do in about 15-20 minutes to strengthen your knees.

They are specifically designed for patients with knee arthritis, ligament and meniscus injuries, but as they are really simple, everyone in the family can join in.

1. Straight Leg Raise

Sit comfortably with your back straight.
Straighten one leg, hold for a slow count to 10, then slowly lower your leg. Repeat at least 10 times with each leg.

If you find this too easy, you can add small weights to your ankles, and point your toes toward you.

2. Step Ups

Step onto the bottom step of the stairs with your right foot. Bring up your left foot beside your right foot, then step down with your right foot, followed by your left foot. Repeat till you get tired.

Hold on to the railing with your hands if necessary.

Try to increase the number of steps you can do in one minute and the height of the step.

(*If you don’t have a staircase at home, you can use a sturdy stepladder or some bricks to do this exercise)

3. Knee Squats

Hold on to a chair or table to support your body. Look at your toes and squat till your knees block your view of your toes. Then return to standing position. Repeat at least 10 times.

Once this gets easy, try squatting a little further, but don’t bend your knees beyond a right angle (90 degrees).

4. Leg Crosses

Sit on the edge of your bed/ on a table. Cross your left ankle over your right ankle. Push your left leg down and your right leg up until your thigh muscles become tense. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax.

Switch legs and repeat. Do 5 sets with each leg.

5. Sit and Stands

Sit on a chair. Without using your hands for support, slowly stand up and then sit down again. Control your movements so you don’t do it too fast. Repeat for 1 minute.

If this is too easy, use a lower chair (unless you have had a hip replacement). Increase the number of times you can do the exercise in 1 minute.

(*If you find your chair too low, you can raise the seat with cushions and slowly remove them once you get better. You can also do these while sitting on a bed or on the stairs)

6. Leg Stretches

Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out in front. Keeping your foot to the floor , slowly bend your left knee until you feel it being stretched (it should not be too painful). Hold for 5 seconds. Then straighten your leg as far as you can and hold for 5 seconds.

Repeat 10 times with each leg.

(*If you can’t get onto the floor, sit on your bed to do this exercise)

7. Hamstring Quadricep Stretch

Lie down comfortably and place a rolled-up towel under your ankle. Bend the other leg at the knee as much as you can.

Use the muscles of your straight leg to push the back of your knee until it touches the floor/ bed. Hold this position for a slow count of 5. Repeat at least 5 times with each leg.

8. Straight Leg Raise (Lying Down)

Bend one leg at the knee. Hold your other leg straight and lift your foot about 5cm off the bed. Hold it for a slow count of 5 then lower your foot back to the bed.

Repeat 5 times with each leg.

Make it a habit to do this exercise every morning when you wake up and when you go to sleep at night

*These images have been adapted from Versus Arthritis – the UK’s largest arthritis support group. A big thank you to physiotherapist Maalini Devi for always being open to our musculoskeletal consults.)

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Dr Putra Vatakal is a Kuala Lumpur based Orthopaedic Surgeon passionate about life, movement and open & arthroscopic joint reconstructions.