As you're happily walking, running and jumping through life, sudden knee pain can be an unpleasant wake-up call that stops you in your tracks. To avoid this, and to keep strutting your stuff, strengthen your knees and make them better shock absorbers by doing staircase exercises that target your quadriceps and hamstrings at the front and back of your upper legs. These muscles support, bend and extend your knees, and if you need more motivation to strengthen them, just imagine the shapely legs and firm tush that you'll end up with.
Stand sideways next to the bottom step of staircase with your feet parallel next to each other.
Tighten your abdominals to help you balance, and bend the knee of the foot closest to the staircase, placing it flat on the bottom step.
Push through the foot on the step and extend your knee to slowly lift your other foot off the floor. Extend your nonworking leg next to your working leg for at least three seconds. Avoid moving rapidly or using momentum to raise your foot.
Bend the knee of your working leg and slowly lower the foot of your hanging leg to the floor. Immediately start the next repetition. Complete three sets of 10 repetitions.
Stand upright in front of the bottom step of a staircase, spread your feet hip-width apart, pull your shoulders back and down and face forward.
Tighten your abdominals to help you balance, bend your right knee and place your entire foot flat on the bottom step.
Push through your right foot, slowly raise your left leg and place it on the step next to your right foot.
Step down with your right foot, followed by your left foot, and repeat the exercise, alternating your leading foot for each repetition. Complete three sets of 10 repetitions.
- If you have problems balancing, hold onto the staircase railing.
- If you don't have access to a staircase, use a step stool or step bench instead.
- If you're new to this exercise, start with a platform that's 2 or 3 inches high. As you get stronger, gradually increase challenge, ultimately aiming for a platform that's 8 or 9 inches in height.
- Consult a doctor before doing knee-strengthening exercises, especially if you have a health condition or injury.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.