Your joints like to be moved around as much as possible, and your knees are no exception. It's important to stretch and flex the knee before a workout to give it a proper warm-up.
Warming up helps blood move through the joint and muscles surrounding it, which can help prevent injuries during knee strengthening exercises. You'll also make sure that you have enough knee range of motion to do the exercises in your upcoming workout.
When you move a joint it releases its own natural lubricant, called synovial fluid. This keeps the joint moving smoothly. The best way to get your joints properly lubricated is to move them with as much range of motion as possible, which means you'll have to bend and straighten your knees during the warm-up.
Choose Your Knee Warm Up
Avoid exercises that put immense pressure on your joints during your knee warm up. Gradually build up to the point where your joints can handle whatever you're going to do during your workout. Try to avoid high-impact exercises like running and jumping. Instead, ease into these activities with low-impact activities like stair climbs and biking.
1. Exercise Bike
Lower the resistance on an exercise or spin bike and pedal slowly for five minutes to get blood flowing through your knees. This is one of the lowest-impact exercises that you can do for your knees that warms up the joint and all of the muscles surrounding it. The bike is also a good way to warm up your entire body for a workout.
2. Kneeling Leg Extension
Kneeling leg extension warms up the quadriceps muscles at the front of your knees.
HOW TO DO IT: Kneel on the ground, sitting on your heels. Rest the top of your feet flat on the ground. Push your feet into the ground to raise your body up slowly. Feel your quads activate as you use them to press the rest of your body up until you're in a tall kneeling position. Your feet should never leave the ground. Then, sink your butt back to your heels and repeat.
3. Child's Pose
HOW TO DO IT: Kneel on the ground and rest your butt on your heels. Lean forward and reach your arms straight forward. Try to touch your forehead to the ground. Sink down into the stretch for 30 seconds. If you can't touch your butt to your heels, put a foam roller or rolled up towel between your legs and butt.
Move with a little bit of resistance during your knee warm up to get them ready for a workout. Squat using only your bodyweight as resistance to warm up your leg muscles and take your knees through a large range of motion.
HOW TO DO IT: Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Point your toes out slightly. Squat down as low as you can go. Put your arms straight forward for balance. Once you hit the bottom stand back up. Do 15 repetitions.
5. Stair Climb
Climb up and down a staircase or use a stair stepper machine in your knee warm up to work these joints without the impact from walking or running. Try to get five minutes of continuous walking up and down stairs as part of your warm up. This can also double as your cardio workout, because your heart and lungs will be working overtime!
6. Prone Knee Bend
The prone knee bend is a good way to increase your range of motion at your knee without any added pressure from your bodyweight.
HOW TO DO IT: Lie on your stomach with your legs straight. Bend one leg at a time, trying to get your foot as close to your butt as possible.