If you are a runner or participate in a sport or activity that performs similar motions, one of the things that you probably dread is runner’s knee.
This knee injury can create much discomfort and pain. But did you know that runner’s knee or patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS) is actually a number of different issues? Runner’s knee can take all of the fun out of your physical activities.
But, there is hope in knee strengthening exercises for runners! If you suffer from this condition, there are several exercises for runner’s knee that could not only help you with runner’s knee, but could also help you prevent runner’s knee from happening in the first place. We’ve collected nine of the best runner’s knee exercises here to help you and your knee out before that next big run.
Exercises for Preventing Runner’s Knee
Here are some of the best runner’s knee exercises and stretches that you can do within your own home to help repair this injury and possibly avoid it altogether.
1. Quad Sets
While sitting on the floor, stretch the injured leg out straight while the other leg is bent. Tighten the muscle on top of your thigh in order to force the back of your injured knee to the floor. Hold it there for 10 to 15 seconds. Repeat this exercise for two sets of 15 movements or reps.
2. Wall Sit
Standing with your back against a wall, place your feet hip-width distance apart and approximately two feet in front of you. Slide your back down the wall by bending at your knees until your knees are at approximately 90 degrees, or in a chair-like position.
The knees should be over your ankle joints, so you may have to readjust the first few times until you get the proper form. Hold this pose for 30 to 60 seconds and then stand back up. Repeat this for three reps. You can also make a wall sit a little more challenging by lifting your right heel for a few seconds and then your left heel. You can create even more of a challenge and resistance by adding weights.
3. Standing Hamstring Stretch
Placing the heel of the injured leg on a stool (approximately 15 inches high, depending on your height), keep your injured leg straight and lean forward (while bending at the hips). You should lean forward until you can feel a mild stretch in the back of your thigh. Avoid rolling your shoulder or bending at the waist, as this will stretch your back as opposed to your leg. Hold this for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat for three reps.
4. Leg Lift
Lie on your uninjured side. Slowly lift the injured leg about seven to nine inches, making sure to keep it straight. Tighten the thigh muscles of the injured leg as you lift it. Repeat this for two sets of 15 reps.
5. Leg Raises
Lie flat on your back (feel free to use an exercise mat) with both of your legs straight in front of you. Bend the uninjured leg and place the foot flat on the mat. Lift the injured leg approximately seven to nine inches in the air and then bring it back down slowly. This should be done for two sets of 10 to 15 reps.
6. Calf Stretch
Stand just short of an arm’s distance from a wall and step your left leg forward and your right leg back. Make sure to keep your feet parallel. While bending your left knee, press through your right heel and hold this for 20 to 30 seconds. Then switch legs. Do this for a few reps.
7. Side Lunges
With your feet directly under your hips, step your right foot wide to the side into a lunge with your left fingers touching your right foot. Make sure not to place your right knee beyond your right toes. Also, try and keep your chin up and the weight in your heels. Push into your right foot to get back to a standing position. Repeat this exercise but lunging to the left side this time. This is one full rep. Repeat for a few more reps.
8. Clam Exercise
Lying on your uninjured side, have your hips and knees bent and place your feet together. Raise the injured leg slowly towards the ceiling while keeping your heels touching. Hold this lift for two or three seconds and lower it back down. This is one full rep. Proceed to do this for 15 to 16 reps.
9. Resisted Terminal Knee Extension
For this exercise, you will need a piece of exercise tubing. Make a loop with the tubing by tying a knot at both ends. Take one knot and close a door on it around knee height. Place the loop behind your injured knee. Lift the other foot off the floor, using something stable like a chair for balance. Bend the knee with the tubing behind it approximately 45 degrees. Straighten out your leg slowly while keeping your thigh muscles engaged. This movement is one rep. Do two sets of 15 reps, and then switch legs and repeat.
While these are some of the best exercises for runner’s knee, you may want to consult with a doctor about your knee injury to determine which of these runner knee strengthening exercises are best for your situation. The last thing you want to do is an exercise that will make you situation worse.
Help Your Knees!
Running and similar exercises can put a lot of strain and pain on to your knees, especially if you aren’t careful. This can put a damper on your quality of life in general, as your knees also help you get around in everyday activities. Luckily, there are the above knee exercises for runners that could help strengthen your knees. Not only might they be good for that next marathon or game of tennis, but they might also keep those knees more than ready for hauling you around the grocery store or a simple walk in the park.