Your knee joint is responsible for bearing approximately 80 percent of your body weight when standing and is highly susceptible to injury. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, in 2006 nearly 12 million office visits were due to knee problems. In order to strengthen the knee joint, it's essential to strengthen the muscles that support the knee. There are varieties of different leg raises that work the main muscles for knee support.
Barbell Calf Raises
The barbell calf raise works the soleus and gastrocnemius muscles of the calf. Position the barbell either high along the top of your shoulders or low across the back of your shoulders. Place your feet shoulder-width apart with your weight over your heels. As you exhale, slowly raise your heels off the floor, keeping your knees straight and your abdominals strong. Hold this position for a few seconds. While inhaling, slowly lower yourself to the starting position. Repeat five to 10 times.
Prone Hamstrings Curl
The hamstring muscle provides support to the knee, and keeping it strong is essential to increased knee stability. The prone hamstrings curl requires the use of a resistance band. Attach one end of the band to an anchor point away from your body and the other end to your ankle. Lie on your stomach and have your legs even with your hips. As you exhale, bend your knee and bring your heel toward your buttocks. While inhaling, slowly return your leg to the starting position. Perform five to 10 repetitions. Repeat these steps with the other leg.
Side-Lying Hip Abduction
Strengthening your hip abductors, hip flexors and gluteal muscles is important for knee strength. The side-lying hip abduction focuses on the abductors. Lie on your side with your legs lengthened and your lower arm bent and under your head. Rest your upper arm on your hip. As you exhale, raise the upper leg, keeping your knee straight and looking forward. Do not allow your hip to roll and don't lift your leg past a 45-degree angle. Raise your leg until you feel tension in your lower back. As you inhale, slowly return to the starting position. Repeat for a set of 10. Roll over and repeat the steps with the opposite leg.
Straight-leg raises work the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes, depending on how you do the exercise. The first method works the quadriceps. Lie on the floor on your back. Support your upper body with your elbows. Bend one leg and straighten the other out in front of you. Raise the straight leg 6 to 10 inches off the floor and hold for five seconds. Slowly lower the leg to the starting position. Repeat for five to 10 repetitions. Perform the same steps with the other leg. To work your hamstrings and glutes, lie on your stomach with your head resting on your arms. Raise one leg toward the ceiling as high as you can and hold for five seconds. Slowly lower the leg to the starting position. Repeat for five to 10 repetitions, and then switch legs.
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Orthopaedic Fast Facts
- American Council on Exercise: Prone Hamstrings Curl
- American Council on Exercise: Barbell Calf Raises
- American Council on Exercise: Side Lying Hip Abduction
- American Council on Exercise: Six Essential Steps to Strengthening the Lower Body Following Recovery From a Knee Injury
- American Council on Exercise: What Exercises Are Best to Strengthen My Knees?
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Knee Conditioning Program
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