Inflammation, or swelling of the knee, is a common and painful symptom of a potentially serious knee injury. Causes of inflammation can range from tendinitis, arthritis, bursitis, a hyperextended knee or ligament damage.
If you develop inflammation in the knee joint, the proper first step is to contact your doctor and request an examination, which could include an MRI, to determine the exact cause of the swelling. If the diagnosis does not require surgery, there are exercises you can perform that should reduce the swelling and pain.
While the exercises themselves will lead to a decrease in inflammation, they should not be performed without properly warming up the body beforehand. Specifically, it is crucial to warm up the muscles around the knee that will provide it the most support during exercise.
According to Bigkneepain.com, warming up with 5 minutes of low-impact aerobics, such as walking or riding a stationary bike, increases blood supply to the muscles to help prevent injury.
Quadriceps and Hamstrings
The two most important muscles that support the knee, according to Bigkneepain.com, are the quadriceps and hamstrings.
The quadriceps runs along the front of the thigh and attaches to the front of the shinbone just below the knee. The quadriceps control knee straightening and movement of the kneecap. They are used to extend the leg and is essential for standing up, walking upstairs, walking uphill and running.
The hamstrings are muscles at the back of the thigh and attach to the back of the shinbone just below the knee. The hamstrings are used to bend the knee and are also needed when you are pushing against something.
The stronger these two muscles, either through stretching or strengthening exercise, the less wear and tear on the knee joint, which aides in reducing inflammation.
According to Bigkneepain.com, stretching the muscles that support the knee helps to prevent injury. Flexible muscles are not as easily injured as tight muscles. If the muscles connected to the knee are tight, they can pull the knee out of alignment.
Stretching exercises may be done daily, but three times a week is sufficient. Some physical therapists may prescribe stretching twice a day during rehab. Each individual stretch should last between a minute and 90 seconds, whether as one long stretch or two or three repetitions. Stretches should be performed without any bouncing.
When doing stretching knee exercises, be careful to go slowly and not to overstretch. You do not want to tear a muscle.
Among the recommended stretching exercises by thewalkingsite.com are for the quadriceps, hamstring and calf.
To stretch the quadrices, lie on your side with your hips and shoulders stacked. Grab the top ankle or shin and gently pull your leg up and away from the bottom leg. Hold in place for 20 seconds and repeat with other leg.
For the hamstrings, sit on the floor with one leg out straight, then bend the other leg at the knee and press the sole of that foot against your opposite inner thigh. Bend at the waist, keeping your back straight and touch the toes of your extended leg. Hold for 20 seconds, then stretch the other leg.
For the calf, stand about a foot from a wall and place your hands on the wall at shoulder height and at shoulder width apart. Take a step back with your right foot while pushing into the wall. Keep your back straight and press your right heel into the floor. Hold for 20 seconds and repeat with the other leg.
According to Bigkneepain.com, there are some common exercises to strengthen both the quad and hamstring.
To perform a quad contraction, sit at the edge of a chair and extend your legs with the heels to floor. With your knees straight, tighten your thigh muscles. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat 10 times, doing two or three sets of 10 at a time.
For a quad partial squats, Stand and keep your back straight, knees hip-width apart and pointing straight ahead. Slowly lower and move your buttocks backward as if you were sitting down, bending the knee no more than 90 degrees. Hold position for a count of 5. Do ten squats. Stop if you feel pain.
For a seated hamstring contractions, bend the knees 45 degrees and keep your heels on the floor, toes lifted up. Pull back on your heels, digging them into floor. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and repeat 10 times.
Lying on stomach, place your left foot onto the back of the right heel. Slowly pull your right heel toward your buttocks, resisting with the left leg. Hold for a count of 10. Repeat 10 times.