New 2021 At-Home Knee Exercises Help Reduce Inflammation & Pain

Knee Pain and Inflammation

We all know these are challenging times. Civil unrest, quarantines, and election upheavals have wreaked havoc on everybody’s lives. But that does not mean you have to live with knee pain.  There are simple, easy practices you can implement that reduce inflammation and pain no matter what your situation is going into 2021.  Here are a few helpful suggestions that can reap significant improvements for your knee joint health regardless of your circumstances.

Common Causes of Knee Pain and Inflammation

There are a variety of reasons for knee pain. If you are experiencing knee discomfort, you should consult your physician to get an accurate diagnosis of your ailment. Here are a few common causes for knee pain and inflammation your doctor might discuss with you.

Osteoarthritis: Knees often suffer from wear and tear as we age. This type of affliction is known as osteoarthritis of the knee; its symptoms include pain, swelling stiffness, and lack of mobility.  Protective cartilage that lines the bones in the knee joint can wear down over time causing the bones to rub together prompting irritation and knee pain. This type of deterioration is usually the result of obesity or getting older.

Injury: One of the most common causes of knee pain is related to work or sports injuries. According to the rehabilitation centers at the Cleveland Clinic, over 125,000 knee injuries are sustained annually due to sport-related accidents. These types of injuries occur when stabilizing ligaments in and around the knee are damaged by forceful impact commonly experienced in sports or other traumas. Another common source of knee pain from an injury deals with a damaged meniscus which is cartilage that cushions the shin and thigh bones. Aside from being very painful, other symptoms from this type of injury include swelling, restriction of movement, and/or locking of the knee.

Overuse: The knee is one of the largest and most complex joints in the body and it’s in constant use. If you consider how much it is used for walking, standing, and getting around, then it becomes clear that knee pain is sometimes a result of overuse.  Overworked knees from high-volume activities can cause deterioration, chronic pain, and limited movement.

Easy At-Home Stretches That Help Relieve Knee Pain

The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that stretching exercises can be effective in improving flexibility and easier knee motion.  Make 2021 your best year for minimizing knee pain and inflammation with these gentle stretches you can do at home.

Hamstring Stretches: Hamstrings are a network of tendons and muscles behind the thigh. When they are too tight, they can put undue strain on the knee joint leading to pain or damage to your knees.  These stretches help loosen the back of the leg and the base of the gluteus muscles. Flexing your foot will also stretch your calves thus improving your knee health.  Steps for doing the hamstring stretch:

  • Lie on the floor or atop a mat with both legs straight. You can bend your knees with your feet flattened on the floor if that is more comfortable.
  • Lift one leg off the floor and using your hands, gently pull your knee towards your chest. Be sure your hands are behind your thigh and below your knee.
  • Hold this position for up to 30 seconds, lower the leg gently and repeat for the other leg. Repeat twice for each side.
  • Please note this stretch should not be painful. If you experience discomfort then decrease the forward extension of the leg to the chest.

Calf Stretches: Tightness in your calves can cause stress on knee joints and can exacerbate pre-existing knee damage. Loosening the calf muscles can greatly help with knee pain. Here is how to do this simple at-home heel and calf stretch:

  • Putting your hands on a wall, move one foot as far back as possible without triggering any discomfort.
  • Make sure your feet are pointed forward with a slight bend to your knees while your heels are flat on the floor.
  • Keep this position and lean into the stretch for about 30 seconds. This stretch should be felt in the back of the lower leg.
  • Switch legs and repeat twice on each side. It’s important to note this stretch should not be painful. If you feel discomfort, ease up on the intensity of the stretch.

Quadriceps Stretches: Quadriceps are a group of four large muscles located at the front of the thigh.  Tension or tightening of this muscle group can cause the knee joint to overcompensate for restricted mobility. These stretches are targeted to loosen the quadriceps and can help ease knee pain. Here is a simple quadriceps stretch you can easily do at home:

  • Position your feet shoulder width apart. Stand next to a chair or wall in case you need support.
  • Raise your leg behind you so your foot is moving towards your gluteus (or glutes which are your buttocks).
  • Clasp your ankle with your hand and pull it towards your buttocks to feel the stretch. This should be done gently and should not cause pain.
  • Hold this position for about 30 seconds and repeat for the other leg twice.

Simple At-Home Exercises That Will Help Your Knees in 2021

Now that we’ve covered some simple stretches you can do for knee pain, you’re ready to start adding knee exercises that can help with knee pain and inflammation. It’s important to do the stretches first and then move onto these exercises.  It’s also essential that you should feel the effects of these stretches and exercises, but you should not feel pain. And of course, please consult your physician to gain approval for these exercises.

Bridge Exercises: These are specialized movements that isolate and strengthen gluteus (buttock) muscles. These exercises can also strengthen hamstring and quadriceps muscles – all of which are connected to knee joint health and function. How to do this exercise:

  • With your head supported, lay on your back and bend your knees so the bottoms of your feet and palms of your hands are flat on the floor (or on a mat).
  • Your legs, knees, and feet should be shoulder-width apart as you are laying down.
  • Begin this exercise by gently tightening the muscles in your buttocks and lift your hips to the sky.
  • Raise your hips as high as you can without causing discomfort and hold for 20-30 seconds.
  • Slowly settle your hips down to the floor and repeat the above-listed steps 10 more times.

Clamshell Exercises: These exercises help strengthen your pelvis, hips, and buttock muscles. The clamshell exercises can do your knees a favor by strengthening these muscles with a goal to relieve strain on your knees. Here is how to do the clamshell exercise:

  • While supporting your head and neck, lay on your side with knees bent toward your chest.
  • Keep your back straight and your feet in-line with your body.
  • With feet kept together, lift your top knee towards the sky.
  • Avoid rolling forward when you lift your knee and keep your hips straight.
  • Hold this position for a few moments and then gently lower your knee back to the starting position.
  • Repeat on each side for 10 repetitions. Be mindful of your body, and go slowly. This exercise should not cause pain or discomfort.

Leg Raising Exercises: Also known as straight-leg raises, this exercise improves strength in your quadriceps (your thigh muscles) so you can relieve your knees from overexertion. These movements also strengthen your legs which will alleviate strain on your knees.  Here is how to you do this simple straight leg raise exercise at home:

  • Support your neck while laying on your back with your arms resting at your sides with the palms of your hands flat on the floor.
  • Bend one knee with your foot flat on the floor, while your other leg is outstretched on the floor.
  • With toes pointed skywards, lift your outstretched leg to the level of your bent knee.
  • Keep your extended leg uplifted for a few moments and then gently lower your leg to the starting position.
  • Do these straight leg lifts on each leg 10 times to strengthen core muscles, but be sure you are not experiencing any pain during this exercise.

Make 2021 Your Best Year for Alleviating Knee Pain and Inflammation with Easy At-Home Exercises

Living with chronic knee pain and inflammation can have a hugely negative impact on your lifestyle.  Not only is it incredibly uncomfortable, but knee damage can also be quite debilitating. Thankfully, there are solutions to alleviate pain and help regain mobility.  Consistently practicing these stretches and exercises at home can improve your knee health significantly so you can move more freely through 2021 and in future years to come.