Mobility is just as important as flexibility, but seems to be less talked about. Knee mobility is important as it helps you do everyday tasks, such as getting up the stairs, sitting down on the floor, relaxing into deep sofas, and walking and running with ease. If you suddenly notice knee stiffness or pain that makes it hard to do these things, it’s time to incorporate some exercises into your daily routine. Check out these knee mobility exercises that reduce pain and increase range of motion.
What Are ‘Mobility Exercises’?
Mobility refers to the way your joints move inside their socket. It’s the ability to move your joints freely with the surrounding tissues allowing the movement to happen smoothly. Mobility exercises are exercises or stretches that help make the joints more flexible by allowing them to reach their full range of motion.The flexibility of the muscles also supports the joints and helps the tendons become more malleable.
Exercises that improve knee mobility help to prevent pain and knee injuries, as well as increase your range of motion. Since they help enhance the movement of your knee, they make it easier to perform daily tasks, where you may be experiencing pain.
4 Knee Mobility Exercise Equipment Essentials
8 Knee Mobility Exercises to Improve Range of Motion
1. Passive Knee Extension
This exercise is ideal if your knee can’t fully straighten, as it helps you regain flexibility in your knee. Sit on a chair with your affected knee on another chair or stool (your hip and foot should be at the same length or lower). Relax your leg and allow the knee to straighten. Place your hands above and below your knee and lightly apply pressure. Hold this for 1 to 2 seconds and release, bending your knee slightly. Repeat this process. If you feel the pain gets worse while doing this exercise, stop, wait a day and try again.
2. Heel Pull Exercise
Sit down with both legs straight out in front of you. Place a small workout towel around your left ankle, holding it with both hands. Pull the towel and slide your ankle toward your bum, keeping your heel on the ground. Continue pulling the towel as far as your knee can bend. Hold for 30 seconds, then slide your foot back to the starting position and repeat on the other side.
3. Functional Knee Flexion, Extension and Rotation Exercise
If you experience pain while bending your knee or you feel limited in bending your knee, this exercise will be great for you. Sit down with both legs straight out in front of you. Pull the affected leg into your body, bending your knee, with your arms looped under your leg- the thigh of your affected leg should be resting on your forearm of the same side and your heel should be off the ground. Rotate your foot outward and extend your knee as much as possible, then rotate your leg in and bend the leg back in toward you. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
4. Hamstring Stretch
The hamstrings are a group of muscles that help support the knee. Tight hamstrings can create an imbalance in the knees, which can lead to pain or a higher probability of injury. Lie down flat on the floor with your knees bent. Raise your left leg straight into the air, keeping your knee slightly bent. Use your hands or a long resistance band to pull your left leg gently towards you. You should feel a stretch along the back of your left thigh. Hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat.
5. Calf Stretch
Like the hamstring, your calf muscles are attached to the back of your knee. If your calf is tight, it can pull on the knee joint and cause pain. Stand at arm’s length from a wall and place your right foot behind your left foot about a foot away. Slowly bend your left knee forward, keeping your right knee straight and your right heel on the floor. Keep your back straight and your hips forward and make sure not to rotate your feet in or out. Hold for 30 seconds, switch legs and repeat. If you want a deeper stretch, bend your right knee slightly as you bend your left leg forward.
6. IT Band Stretch
The iliotibial (IT) band stabilizes your knee and helps you stretch and extend your leg. It’s prone to becoming tight and sore, which can result in knee pain. This exercise helps stretch and lengthen the IT band. Lie down on your side with your legs extended. Place a short resistance band around your ankles and raise your top leg towards the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.
7. Supported Squats
Squats can help strengthen the knees while getting them moving at the same time. Supported squats are beneficial so that you can strengthen your muscles without asking too much of your knees. Stand with your legs a little bit wider than hip-width apart, turning your toes out slightly. Hold onto something that won’t move like a counter or a couch and lower your hips back into a squat. Make sure to sit back- your knees should not be over your toes. Pause at the bottom, take a breath and press into your feet the raise back up. Repeat 5 to 8 times.
8. Resistance Band Crab Walks
This exercise will help improve mobility in the knee, reducing pain. Place a short resistance band just above your knees and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bend both knees slightly, then step to the side with one foot so your feet are wider apart and there’s more resistance on the band. Keep your toes pointed outward and step slowly with one foot at a time before following with the other. Take 4 steps in one direction, the 4 steps in the other, repeating for 1 minute.
If you’ve been noticing knee pain and stiffness, try these exercises and stretches to get your knee mobility back on track!
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