Strong and healthy knees are essential for performing everyday tasks and athletic feats required for track, soccer, basketball and football. Many of these activities can also cause injury to the knee, however, whether from a misalignment due to an accident during a contact sport or the simple wear and tear of jogging on rough terrain. To protect yourself, perform exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding and supporting your knee, such as your quadriceps and hamstrings.
Your quadricep muscles are at the front of your upper leg and play an important role in stabilizing your knee. To protect your knee from injury, strengthen these muscles through a series of wall squats. Begin by standing with your back against the wall. Your head and hips should just touch the wall. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Walk your feet out about 2 feet from the wall. Lower your hips, sliding down to a sitting position against the wall with your knees bent at about 90 degrees. Hold for five counts and return to the starting position. Do eight to 12 reps of this exercise on a regular basis.
Leg lifts also work your quad muscles for stronger, more stable knees. Lie down on the floor with your back against the ground. Bend one leg and bring your foot closer to your body. Keep the other leg straight, extended in front of you. Contract your thigh muscles and lift the extended leg off the floor a few inches. Hold the position for five counts, then lower your leg to rest. Perform two sets of eight to 12 reps for each leg.
Your hamstrings are at the back of your upper leg, and also play an important role in protecting and supporting your knee. To exercise this muscle, stand behind a chair and raise one foot toward your rear until your shin is parallel to the floor. Hold the position for five counts, then return your leg to standing position. Alternate curling each leg, completing two sets of eight to 12 reps.
You can continue to strengthen your hamstrings with step-ups. Stand behind a 6-inch platform or step. Begin by stepping up on your right foot, letting your left leg dangle. Return both feet to the ground. Then step up with your left foot and repeat the exercise. Perform two sets of 20 reps.
Joelle Dedalus began writing professionally for websites such as PugetSoundMagazine.com in 2009. She received her B.A. in English education at Iowa State University and is currently a M.F.A. candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Emerson College in Boston, where she is developing a manuscript on literary travel. Her areas of expertise include travel and literature, the outdoors and the arts.