Strong, healthy, feel-good knees are just a morning routine away! Next time you avoid getting out of bed because of those aching knees, try these 3 knee exercises from bed.
Written by: Coach Todd
Wincing before standing up… Finding instant relief when sitting down… Needing more than just a little rest after a long walk… we all experience knee pain differently, but one thing remains constant: our aching knees won’t go away.
And while it’s easy to sigh and curse old age, that doesn’t have to be the end to our story. Knee pain isn’t inevitable for everyone. Some adults are able to live life (even run) pain-free! Shocking, I know. But it’s true.
Those same people with strong and pain-free knees aren’t simply resting all the time. They’re staying active to support their knee health, and you should be too. Keep reading to see how this almost forgotten type of exercise can help rejuvenate your knees.
Our knees are simple joints surrounded by some of the largest muscles in the body. This includes the quadriceps (front thigh), hamstrings (back thigh), abductors (outer thigh), and adductors (inner thigh). These muscles work together with other ligaments and tendons to support the knee joint and keep it stable.
However, when there is an imbalance in these muscles, ligaments, and tendons, knee pain arises. Rest, ice, and constant visits to the doctor often seem like their only options. But they can only go so far…
Fortunately, research has discovered another way of strengthening our knees: Isometric Exercise aka gentle knee exercises from bed.
Why You Should Be Doing Isometrics for Better Knee Health
Isometric exercises are those where the joints don’t move but require you to hold a challenging position for a period of time. These types of exercises are extremely low-impact and great for rapidly strengthening muscles, as well as supporting tendon and ligament health.
One study tested the strength, pain intensity, and overall function of the knee between two groups suffering from osteoarthritis. Group A performed isometric exercises 5 days a week for 5 weeks, whereas Group B did not perform any exercise program. The results were conclusive.
Group A increased their strength, reduced their pain sensations, and improved their knee function at the end of the 5th week. And, their strides were significantly greater than those of Group B. Want to know the best part?
These isometric exercises don’t have to be done in the lab… in a gym… or even on the ground. Anyone can do these simple exercises from the comfort of their bed. Try these 3 knee exercises from bed each morning for strong, healthy, feel-good knees.
3 Gentle Knee Exercises From Bed
Laying Towel/Pillow Squeezes
While lying down on the bed, bend your knees so that the bottoms of your feet are flat on the bed.
Place a pillow or rolled towel between your knees.
Squeeze your knees together into the pillow for 10 seconds.
Avoid knocking your knees together by slowly squeezing in a controlled manner (about 70-80% effort).
Repeat three times before moving onto the next exercise.
All too often, we find our outer thighs and hips are stronger than the inner portion of our legs… forcing our knees to work overtime to move properly. This exercise helps to strengthen both the inner thigh and the smaller muscles surrounding the knee, decreasing any possible imbalance our knees could be compensating for.
Seated Towel/Pillow Presses
It’s now time to sit up in bed and extend your legs out straight.
Grab either a pillow or rolled towel. Place the item under one leg, directly behind the knee. Rest your back against the headboard or lean back onto your hands if needed.
While keeping good posture, press your knee into the towel/pillow for 10 seconds before relaxing.
Repeat 3 times on the same leg then switch!
Our quadriceps — or front thigh muscles — play a key role in generating strong knees. By strengthening these thigh muscles, we can reduce the amount of work our knee joints have to do just to stand, walk, or bend. The seated towel press strengthens these muscles while also providing a nice stretch to the back of legs — the hamstrings!
Seated Leg Raises
Ready to get out of bed and start the day? You’re almost there! Swing your legs over the edge of the bed while sitting as tall as possible. You may lean back onto your hands or elbows if needed (picture is of this position).
Raise one leg at a time, pointing the toes to the ceiling. Hold the raised position for 10 seconds.
Slowly lower your leg and relax.
Switch legs and perform the same movement, holding for 10 seconds.
Repeat 3 times per leg.
Control is the name of the game with this movement. Having the thigh strength to fight gravity and lift your leg with ease is essential for healthy knees. This exercise strengthens both the front of the thigh (quads) and the back (hamstring) when done with control.
**NOTE: none of these exercises should be done through pain. While yes, there may be some discomfort from learning a new movement, you should not be gritting your teeth to perform these exercises. Go as far as your body allows.
And ta-da! You’re off to a great start to stronger and healthier knees. Do these knee exercises from bed daily before getting up for the day!
Interested in more exercises to reduce knee pain? Click here.