The importance of good knees is only realized when we fall victim to bad knees. A few easy exercises can ensure the ease of movement and the freedom to walk, run or even jump. You will be able to perform your daily activities without pain and discomfort by doing simple leg exercises. You will surely suffer in the long run if any little ache and pain caused by knee injuries remain unattended. Seniors are more prone to knee injuries as they become less resilient as they age. Keep reading to find out some effective leg exercises for seniors with bad knees. These exercises can help both senior and young people with bad knees.
Things that cause or contribute to having a bad knee
You will not find a single person who hasn’t experienced knee pain at least for once in his/her entire life. People who live an active life and engage themselves in sports and exercise. Muscle strains, tendinitis, and other injuries related to ligament and cartilage may transpire due to the active lifestyle one is living. Sometimes knee pain becomes so severe that it limits the regular activities.
Ligament injuries are the most common form of knee injuries. Ligaments hold the bones together and connect the thigh bone and leg bone keeping the knees stable. These ligaments often experience sprains and tears while running or walking. Knee cartilage injuries are also common injuries which may lead you to undergo surgery. There are some types of chronic arthritis knee injury which cause pain to the knees and limits the movement. You may experience severe knee pain associated with stiffness and swelling.
Why are the knees of seniors different?
People tend to develop knee pains and become easily susceptible to knee injuries as they get older. Various studies have proved that knee pain is common in people of 65 years of age and more. And there is a scientific explanation to back this statement. All the joints in our body continuously fight against gravity. The knee joins bear our weight when we do anything being in standing position. The joints may wear and tear as we grow older and take more steps every day.
Osteoarthritis is the most common knee disease which is common in 34% American who are above the age of 65. This is the main reason for old people’s developing a bad knee. Many people gain weight as they age. If your body put weight on the knee more than it can carry, it raises the risk of developing severe knee pain. Besides, the muscles start to shrink after a certain age, roughly 20 years. This process continues till the 60. As a result, senior people lose muscular strength. The loss of this muscular support makes older people more vulnerable to knee injuries and knee pain.
Leg exercises for seniors with bad knees
Bad knees may cause you to run off the tracks of your fitness goals and leave you feeling disappointed with your effort. And the effect of bad knees becomes more miserable for the seniors. Besides, it’s not curable only with medication; rather physical exercises play a significant role to facilitate the strengthening of bad knees. One can choose leg exercises that don’t hurt knees and strengthen the knee muscles. Because, it’s not all about the knee joints only, the flexibility of muscles around the knees also matters. Keep reading to get ideas about some effective leg strengthening exercises for bad knees.
Wall Facing Chair Squats
It’s a straightforward exercise which requires only a standard table chair. Face the wall and stand 1 foot away from it keeping the chair just behind you. Keep your feet parallel maintaining hip-width distance in the middle. Gently lower yourself down to sit on the chair and brace your core while doing so. Complete two or three sets and repeat the process eight to twelve times.
Effects of Wall Facing Chair Squats
This workout targets all the muscles in the lower portion. It strengthens the muscles around the knee joints. It is an easy exercise to do for the seniors.
It’s a bit advanced squat which may not be suitable for the seniors. Stand firmly leaning against the wall. Keep the feet parallel keeping shoulder-width distance in the middle. There will be no chair to support you in this exercise. Now, slowly bend the knees and lower the body to mimic the sit position. Try to increase the duration of the sit position each time you twist the knees. Change the position if you find difficulty to continue it.
Effects of Wall Squats
Wall Squats put pressure on the back, knees, and pelvis. It works on the lower parts of the body and strengthens the calf muscles. It also targets the core, hamstring and the glutes.
Seated Leg Extension
You may need the help of a few pounds ankle weight to get the most benefits from this exercise. Sit on a chair in an upright position keeping the back straight and flat. Now stretch one leg as straight as possible so that it becomes parallel to the ground. Keep the ankles and fingers bent to the knees. Return to the starting position and repeat the process with the other leg.
Effects of Seated Leg Extension
The extension of leg involves vastus medialis muscle of the quads. This exercise can strengthen the quads by working on the quads. Seniors with bad knees can try this exercise easily.
Hamstring injuries are very common even in an athlete’s life who spends a routine life with a balanced diet. These are the muscles that form the back of the thighs. You can do this exercise both by lying flat on the stomach or standing and holding onto a chair. Slowly bend your knees and bring the heels closer to the butt as much as possible. Continue doing three sets and repeat for 15 times. When it seems easy to you, add ankle weights to increase the resistance.
Effects of Hamstring Curls
It strengthens the hamstrings. Hamstring is related to the health of the knees. Weak hamstrings may cause you to fall victim to bad knees. This exercise is easily doable by seniors with bad knees.
Low Plank Hold with Knee-Flex
This is a bit similar to hamstring curls but more challenging than that. Take a low plank position putting all the weight on your elbows. Bring the heels toward the glutes in slow motion by flexing the knee. Extend the leg and return to the starting position. Lift one leg at once then shift to the other.
Effects of Low Plank Hold with Knee-Flex
This exercise works on the glutes, hamstrings, and quads. It may be a bit difficult to do for seniors with bad knees. But it is one of the most effective leg exercises for knee injuries.
Straight Leg Raises
If you already have a bad knee and face difficulty while doing hard exercises, here is an example of leg strengthening exercises for bad knees. Lie flat on the floor keeping the face upright. Bend one knee and keep the foot flat on the floor while extending the other leg as straight as possible to the height of the firm knee. This will not cause much strain to the knees.
Effects of Straight Leg Raises
This is a perfect exercise for the people having knee injuries or bad knees. It targets the quadriceps without causing stress or tension to the knees.
Prone Straight Leg Raises
This is quite similar to the hamstring curls. Lie flat on the floor on the stomach keeping the legs as straight as an arrow. Lift one leg toward the ceiling and hold it for 3-5 seconds. You will not bend the knee and move the heels toward the glutes in this exercise. Repeat the process for 10-15 lifts then move to the next leg. You can also add ankle weight to enhance the intensity of the workouts.
Effects of Prone Straight Leg Raises
It improves the calf muscles, hamstrings, and glutes. The seniors may find it difficult to do. If you feel back pain while doing this exercise, you better consult a doctor.
This is a very easy exercise. Just stand on a sturdy floor and try to raise the heels slowly as high as you can put all your weight on the heels. Then slowly lower the heels to the previous position. When you find it easy to do with both legs, try doing it with one leg at a time lifting the other foot slightly off the floor.
Effects of Calf Raises
Calf raises work on the calf muscles which ultimately results in the development of the knee joints. It is one of the leg workouts for knee pain.
Step-ups are good as a light cardio exercise too. It improves knee health and engages the exercisers in cardiovascular activity. Keep one foot on a step higher than the flat surface. Bend your one knee and put the other leg on the flat floor. Start stepping up and down from the platform. Don’t put the foot ion the floor in firm position while doing this exercise. Lightly touch the toe to the floor and get back to the stepping up procedure.
Effects of Step-Ups
This might not be a safe one for the seniors. You may need the support of others or any sturdy wall or railing to maintain the balance and prevent sudden falls. It helps keep the knees limber and strengthen the lower body.
If you are planning to go to a gym, you can use leg press machines to improve the condition of your knees. Sit on a leg-press machine on your back keeping the head against the support. Adjust the seat back as you see fit and keep the feet flat on the foot plate. Gently push the plate away from your body and extend the legs fully. The return to the starting position again. Continue this process until the required reps.
Effects of Leg Presses
It develops the thigh and calf muscles and targets the hamstring, ligament, and cartilage. This is not recommended for people having bad knees already. But you can do these workouts to prevent knee injuries.
Additional tips for leg workout with bad knees
It’s not possible for you to do what a 100% fit person does in the gym if you have a bad knee. So, don’t follow anyone as the health conditions may differ in terms of fitness and capability. You can keep the following tips into account to prevent further damages to the knees and facilitate the healing process.
- Don’t engage yourself in any exercise that includes sudden jumping or explosive movements.
- It’s not mandatory to use weights. Don’t put pressure on your knees by lifting extra weight.
- Ensure that you’re not promoting the knee pain by working out forcefully. Stay within your range.
- Try to do low impact exercise so that bad knees don’t get worse. If the pain increases over time, consult a doctor immediately.
Exercises are meant to promote the wellbeing of health. But, wrong workout routine and inappropriate ways of exercising may do the opposite. That’s why it’s better to consult a physician or a certified trainer before engaging in any sort of exercises. You can get the necessary guidelines about leg exercises for seniors with bad knees from the above discussion. Don’t hesitate to check with a doctor if you ever feel a sharp, shooting pain in the muscles. It’s better to heal the pain before it becomes incurable.