Knees - strengthening exercises?

Hi Folks,

Can anyone offer any advice to strengthen my knees? I can run over 1/2 hour at a time ok, and regularly go out for hour long runs, which I am increasing now. Got a half marathon in January...

But, my knees are really bad. I find I have to walk for short bursts and really flex my knees, otherwise they feel like they are going to cease up.

They really crunch if I happen to have kneel down too. (I know I am not so young anymore but this is ridiculous!)

Are there any easy exercises I can do at home, not necessarily in a gym, to improve muscle strength? I figure that will help support my knees whilst running.




  • Thanks Johnny J!

    Got a long way to go to be over 60 - but I will check the thread anyway!

    I have been doing short bursts on the rowing machines at the gym, at the end of my treadmill sessions. I am hoping that will help a bit with the creaky knees!!

  • Hi Go-Slow, I have one creaky knee which I've strenghtened using the weight machines at the gym. I do lots or rowing, some cross-trainer or eliptical running machine and then leg presses, leg curls etc. I just looked at all the machines and chose the ones which worked on the muscles surrounding the knees. So far (touch wood) my gammy knee is behaving itself well and I'm up to 27 miles a week.
    Good luck.
  • I have just started taking tablets to improove the joints (bought them from Bourne Sports). You take five each day with food. They are natural (fish oils and the like) Ill let you know if they work for me as knee problems cost me 30 minutes in this years FLM
  • AS - What are they called and what are they meant to do? This is a particular Achilles heel of mine (in all 4 knees) if you know what I mean.
  • Lunges are good. Start with one set of ten after every run and build up over 4 or so weeks to 3 sets of twenty. Works for me.
  • I had problems with my knees when I did gymnastics many moons ago now and the physio recommended that I sit on the kitchen worktop or some raised platform at home, put a few tins in a carrier bag, hook the bag over my foot and bend and straighten that leg for several repetitions. Sounds a bit DIY but it worked for me and thankfully have never had any knee-trouble when running.
  • Cross train - I have had a knee injury and strengthened legs by cycling to work, swimming etc would also be really good.

    Also watch what surfaces you run on - avoid pavements as they will shock your knees and are not good.

    Good luck with it all!
  • Thanks for all the suggestions - I shall give them a go, see what works for me. I am taking cod liver oil capsules (Yuck), in the hope that they will help. The doctor didn't seem to think they make any difference.. but I sometimes wonder if they really know what works or not! I would rather find the causes and deal with them, than pop pills after the event...

    Thanks again, will post any progress as I find it.


  • Hi Go slow
    I suffer with post run tenderness in both knees, particularly going up stairs or walking more than a couple of miles. I find it helpfull to run one day and rest the next, two days running consequatively causes much hurt!
    Have also just started taking Condroitin & glucosamine complex gels (extra strength!) as recommended by my chiropractor (very pricey!) but may take a few months probably to see benefits, it allegedly helps repair joints & lubricate etc. Will let you know if it works.
    But I,m definatetly going to give M's carrier bag excercises a go.
  • Glucosamine Sulphate maybe worth a try.

    The "Wall Chair" is a good exercise - you "sit down" against a wall and let yourknees take the strain. I can do 5 minutes.
  • Could also try a couple of sqirts of GTX on each joint ;)
  • Pippi LSPippi LS ✭✭✭
    i take the high stregth cod liver oil tablets and have had no problems with slightly stiff knees and shoulder since. They are cheap from Wilkinsons or Superdrug etc (I haven't tried the dearer ones with glucosamine etc so don't know if they are any better)
    Swallow it quick with a good slurp of orange or somehting and you'll never know (just don't leave it lurking in the mouth too long while you pour said orange ...)
  • Another thing possibly worth considering is sorbothame (or similar) insoles to absorb most of the impact as you run.
  • They had some warm up excercises in the mag about 3 months ago that I found worked.

    Basically just before you set out on a run lye down flat on you're front and slowly at first lift your leg until it's just about to touch your buttock, lower it back down and then do the same with the other leg. Repeat this over and over slowly increase the speed until you're legs are kicking quite quicky. After 3 mins or 60 (prone kicks I think they're called) on each and you're done.

    The theory is it warms up the knee joint fully and a protective fluid lines you're knee which protects against impact while running.

    I did them thinking I look like an idiot, but they work. I don't need to do them any more as knees are fixed and it's free!
  • Chances are - you don't have full extension of the knee joints - so as well as feeling as tho you need to flex the knees - the VMO muscle isn't being 'triggered' so the patella isn't tracking right hence creaky knees - which will become arthritic if you don't sort it.

    Can be sorted - takes dedication and a heck of a lot of work plus physio to make sure the knee is 100% 'loose' otherwise any knee / vmo exercises you do won't be helping as much as they could / might even be making the problem worse

    Cruise thro both the injuries forum and the Best of Injury and Health for more info - or e-mail me if teh e-mail is working now
  • maybe worth seeing a physio or other (sports massage) for an assessment and preventative advice and therapy

    knees are complicated and can be very problematic .. you might have muscle strength imbalance (quads v hamstrings is common) as is underdeveloped vastus medialis , as well as underlying ACL or patella tracking problems and wear and tear

    an ounce of prevention might save many quids if you need to find a cure later

  • I have sore knees too at the moment. They came on gradually as I started running longer distances.

    Trouble is I have such humungous muscles in the front of my thigh anyway, it cant be them that are too weak! Maybe they are too strong and thats the problem. I dont need to build them up anymore anyway they already look like Im wearing jodphurs!

    Which exercises would help me build the other muscles around the knee?

  • Ive just run the Paris marathon and my knees are agony. Will the pain go away by elavating the knee and applying ice or should I seek medical attention?
  • I've just taken a few weeks off following problems with my achilles tendons and have gone out for a couple of easy runs. Achilles feel great but both runs I have done I have had to stop as the outside of my right knee has started aching after 25 minutes or so.The pain goes away as soon as I stop running.

    Before my lay off I had been training hard all summer and never had any problems with my knees so I'm a bit baffled as to what the problem could be as why wasn't my knee hurting when I was training hard?

    Could it be related to my time off from running, a bit of a shock to the system if you like, that will go away soon as long as i just ease my way back into training? Or should I be more concerned? My knee does not hurt to touch
  • I used to suffer from 'knee niggles' and as well as doing some of the exercises mentioned already I also take Glucosamine Sulphate tablets. They're meant to "maintain healthy joints and connective tissue". Touch wood haven't had any problems since.
  • Not sure if this will help anyone but when I first started running 4 years ago I had sore/stiff knees. It hurt just above and to the side of each kneecap and my physio said the muscles on either side of the kneecap weren't holding up (and as it shifted it hurt) so she suggested plies. I skipped ballet as a kid but I found the exercises really helped strengthen the knees and no more pain. So for any other ballet ignoramuses who this might help: heels touching, feet at 90 degrees, knees in line with toes, hold your body in a long line and centred above your pelvis (no leaning forward/backward) and gently flex your knees out/toward the floor, without letting your heels come off the ground. Keep your knees in line with your toes the whole time, as you lower and then raise again. Hope that makes sense.

    I quit running for 2 years (way too hot in Australia) but kept the plies up intermittently and have had no problems since starting running again this year.
  • This particular page of a site is for iliotibial band syndrome (IBS). Your problem may not be IBS, but the site could have other pages which are applicable to your problem.

    ps. I do the exercises on the page, and I haven't had any problems since...

    Good luck
  • Have read this thread but wonder if I can start the exercises while my knees still hurt or should I wait til they feel normal again? I did 17 miles yesterday, my knees did't hurt at the time but really do today. They were fine last week after 15 miles but now I'm really worried about how I'll get through the FLM in 6 weeks. Please help!
  • Catherine - do you do stretches after running? I did 16.5 miles at the week-end, and was so shattered when I got in that I just collapsed into a chair, but paid for it later. Just about back to normal now, so hopefully you will be in a day or two, but I'm sure it helps if you can do stretches when you finish.
    I've used Ibuprofen gel when I've had tender knees, which is quite soothing.
    I would say if the exercises hurt, maybe give yourself some more recovery time first.
  • Diana,
    Thanks for your tip. You are right. I did feel wrecked and did just stop and normally I do stretch. I hope it is just a simple thing like that and not long term damage
  • I have been in training for the FLM and so far no real problems covering up to 18 miles.
    Yesterday, however, I had to start walking after about 12-13 miles, because of knee pain, outside of left knee to be precise. This is a new problem, could it be related to a weeks ski-ing last week? I am very worried about carrying on with training and the taking part in the FLM itself! Any advice gratefully received!
  • Well, I seem to have every sympton mentioned in thsi thread and have probably tried all the recommednations mentioned over the years.
    Injured knee 25 years ago playing football. For the last 20 years have mostly run, although some cycling and now rowing as well.
    Couple of months ago leg presses in the gym caused a shooting pain in the problematic knee. Now when I run I am Ok but it is sore to the touch afterwards. Right in the centre of the knee when leg is stretched out straight, right in the centre of the round area (kneecap).
    Ibruprofen or rest (or both) for a couple of days makes it much easier. But it flares up again after the next run. Longer runs make it worse.

    I am tempted to row for a few days but again, if done properly that causes the knee to ache as I push off on the drive. Cycling causes similar stress on the area. I do iverpronate, but wear motion control shoes and change them regularly.

    Any suggestions?. Might buy some glucoasmine tablets again.
  • Hey all -- I used to cycle everywhere and caused imbalance -- big quads, but other supporting muscles insufficiently developed. I had serious problems going up/down stairs and physio suggested some very good, non-stressy exercises:
    1. Sit on floor or mat with legs straight out in front. With one leg at a time, rotate whole leg to turn knee out (instead of knee pointing upward, point to a "2:30" angle). Keeping abs in, and without straining back, lift leg a SMALL way, just enough to activate the muscle on the inside of your upper knee/lower thigh. Hold briefly, and lower. Repeat 20x and switch sides. Best to do whenever you can throughout the day. It can be varied so you can do it at your desk, just be careful not to strain your knee.
    2. Same starting position as first, only with legs not turned out. Put a rolled up towel (not too large) under your knee. Push down on the towel as though to flatten. Hold briefly and relax. Repeat 20x and switch sides.
    These and a VERY CAREFUL commencement of running sorted my knees pretty thoroughly. (Not that I haven't had new, wonderful, other injuries. :( )
  • After running a 10 mile cross country race last weekend my knee ceased up after I had finished the race. Next day I had an egg like swelling on the outside of my knee and my knee 'gave way' when walking. Physio diagnosed an inflamation of the supprapatellar pouch and a strained lateral knee ligament. although no longer painful, still swollen and 'gives way'. Has anyone else experienced similar problems and if so how long befor running again.
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