Always start slowly with any exercise routine to warm up and prevent injury. Listen to your body and don’t push past your limits. Remember, your strength and flexibility will increase over time!
The Forward Bend
You don’t have to be a total yogi to get a good stretch from the forward bend. This knee exercise will stretch your leg muscles, especially targeting your hamstrings. Tight or weak hamstrings are limited in the protection they give your knees, so it’s important to work them out.
Standing on your mat, start with your hands on your hips. Bend forward from your hip joints as you exhale, lengthening your upper body as you reach toward the mat. Reach your fingers towards the floor and touch the floor with your fingers or your palms. You can also reach around or behind your ankles. If you can’t keep your knees from bending while reaching toward the floor or if you can’t reach that far, you can modify the stretch and reach toward a chair to support you while you stretch downward. Relax your shoulders and neck, letting your head hang freely. Remember to breathe as you deepen the stretch. To come out of the pose, bring your hands up to your hips, push your tailbone down, and breathe in as you bring your upper body back up.
Standing Quad Stretch
The standing quad stretch is a great way to strengthen your knees and improve your balance. If balance poses give you trouble, you can do this stretch by holding on to a chair or placing a hand on the wall.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Put your weight on your left foot and lift your right foot tucking the knee behind. Grip your ankle or foot and pull your shin toward your glutes, pointing your knee toward the floor. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds then switch to the right foot.
Standing Side Leg Raise
The standing side leg raise exercise plays an important part in achieving optimum knee health. This knee strengthening exercise is a great way to help improve your balance, tone your thighs and make your knees more resilient at the same time.
Stand freely or use a chair to support your balance. Shift your weight to your left foot and bring your right leg up to the side very slowly. Lift your right leg as far as you can, making sure to keep your leg straight. As you raise your leg, you should feel a nice stretch on the inner thigh. Keep the leg up for at least ten seconds, and then slowly bring it down to the mat then switch sides.
Floor Leg Lifts
The Leg Raise exercise is a gentle way to help strengthen the muscles in the thigh and hamstrings and strengthen the knees. This stretch will also engage your core, helping to strengthen your abdominal muscles and lower back.
Lie down on your back. Put your hands on the mat beside your glutes. Keep your body straight and your toes pointed up. Don’t bend your knees or lift your lower back off the mat. Inhale and raise your legs off the mat slowly and smoothly. Raise your legs as high as you can while keeping them straight. Try to get your legs at about a 30-degree angle and hold the posture. Exhale, keep your back on the mat, and bring your legs to the mat.
By committing to these simple knee exercises even just 2-3 times a week, you will be well on your way to increasing strength and flexibility for healthier joints! Before beginning any exercise regimen, consult with your physician to determine if these exercise recommendations are right for you.
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