Niggling knee pain can make it hard to keep up your exercise habit, even if you aren’t running marathons. These resistance-band exercises could help.
You don’t need to be a long-distance runner to suffer from knee pain. It can show up during squats and lunges or even just climbing the stairs. And it’s hard to ignore. Often, strengthening the surrounding leg muscles can help take pressure off your knees. But the trick is not to do more squats and lunges, but rather to target the smaller, stabilising leg muscles with small, precise movements. Hayley Schuter, a physiotherapist at PhysioActive in Cape Town often prescribes these five strength exercises to patients suffering from knee pain. Bonus: All you need is a light, stretchy resistance band and something sturdy to attach it to.
While these moves may not look as impressive or torch as many kilojoules as, say, a box jump, you’ll feel the burn as you isolate those smaller muscles. And the stronger they become, the better your box jumps, squats and other big movements will be. Perform each of these moves until fatigue – you should feel a slight exercise burn, but not pain – then move onto the next. Do two to three rounds total. A dose of common sense: If you’re suffering from debilitating pain or have recently injured yourself, skip the online workouts and head directly to your physio – there could be something more serious at play.
Watch one of our WH staffers perform the moves:
1/ Standing Knee Extension
Tie a loop in your band. Close it in the door or tie it around a sturdy chair or table leg. Step into the band at knee height and move back to create resistance in the band, causing your knee to bend. With a slow and controlled movement, straighten your knee into the band, then bend back to start.
“This is a nice exercise for people who have pain with standing exercises, like squats,” says Schuter. Lie on your side with knees bent and the band looped around your knees. Without rolling back, lift your top knee up into the band.
3/ Lying Knee Extension
Another good one if you feel pain during standing exercises. Lie on your back, band looped under one foot with the knee bent, holding the ends in your hands. Straighten your knee as you press the band upwards.
4/ Sumo Side Walks
Tie the band around your knees and stand in a mini squat position, legs close together. Walk sideways, then reverse back to start. “You can vary this one by taking a few steps to the one side then coming back or walking forward and back in the mini squat position,” says Schuter. “When you get stronger, progress by putting the elastic around your ankles.”
5/ Standing Adduction
“Most knee exercises concentrate on strengthening the outer leg muscles and this one balances it out,” says Schuter. Tie one end of the band to a sturdy chair or table leg and the other end around your ankle. Walk out to get enough resistance from the band and hold on to something for balance. Start with feet apart, pulling your banded foot in towards your other foot. As you get stronger, progress to kick your banded foot past your other foot.