Your knees are complex machines that contain many tendons, ligaments and cartilage. They work to connect the bones and muscles in your lower and upper legs. Your knees may get sore and sustain injuries if you use them a lot but don’t take steps to maintain them. Stretching and strengthening the structures and muscles that support your knees will help reduce your risk of developing long-term problems in those joints.
Get Your Workout Started
Chat with your doctor or physical therapist to determine what type of exercises you should do to improve the tone and flexibility around your knees. They may suggest that you stick to low-impact activities such as swimming and yoga to reduce strain if you have arthritis. Ease into your workout if you aren’t physically fit. Gaining strength and flexibility take time to develop. And while you may feel some discomfort during and after a stretch, you should never feel serious pain, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Stop an exercise and rest your muscles if your discomfort turns into pain.
Stretch Your Quads
Your quadriceps are the muscles at the fronts of your upper thighs. Your quads help you extend your knees; so making sure that they are flexible will help you perform actions such as sprinting without causing extra stress on your knees. To stretch your quads, grab one ankle and pull up on your heel with your leg behind your body until your feel the stretch in the front of your thigh. You may need to hold onto the back of a sturdy chair to stabilize your body. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds while making sure to keep a close distance between your knees. Perform the same stretch on the other leg.
Stretch Your Hamstrings
Your hamstrings are the muscles on the backs of your thigh. They oppose the motions of your quads, which means they stretch when your quads contract and contract when your quads stretch. You need flexible hamstrings to keep your legs moving smoothly and to keep your knees stable and properly aligned. To stretch your hamstrings, lie flat on your back with your knees bent up toward the ceiling and the soles of your feet flat on the ground. Lift one leg up without lifting up your hips and lace your fingers together behind your upper thigh while you extend your heel up toward the ceiling. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Stretch Your Calves
In the back of your lower leg, your calf muscles are also an important structure in the greater mechanism of your leg and attach to the bones around your knees. To improve flexibility in your calves, stand up about an arm’s length from a wall, place your left foot behind your right and gradually bend your right leg forward with your left knee held straight and your left heel planted on the ground. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and do the same stretch on the opposite leg.