Exercises to Strengthen Knees for Seniors

Exercises to strengthen knees is an important part of a senior all-around strengthening program. Building knee strength and conditioning your knees will help you return to your daily activities quicker so you can continue to enjoy your active, healthy lifestyle.

Knee exercises like the ones below, should be continued for at least 4 to six weeks to allow your muscles and tendons time to strengthen and to improve your range of motion. Performing these two to three days a week will keep your strength and motion intact.

  1. Seated Straight Leg Raise
  2. Seated Knee Extensions
  3. Wall Squats
  4. Hamstring Curls
Watch my instructional video

The straight leg raise is one of the most effective exercises for not only the hip, but also the front muscles that attach through your patella to your lower leg bone. This strengthening can be continued with the seated knee extension exercise, which will improve your strength and also your range of motion. So be sure to fully extend your leg with these. Wall squats are an old tried and true way of improving the static strength of your legs. Make sure to keep your tail bone and shoulders against the wall to maintain good posture throughout the exercise. Finish up with a posterior muscle exercise in the hamstring curls. Add a two pound ankle weight to make a more effective and challenging exercise.

Exercise 1

Straight Leg Raise. Sitting in your chair, extend one leg out and set it on the heel. Slowly contract your quads, point toes to ceiling, and lift your leg as high as comfortable. Pause and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times on each leg.

Exercise 2

Knee Extension.  Sit in your chair comfortably with your feet flat on the floor, and chest lifted. Begin by extending one knee until your leg is straight out. Squeeze your thigh muscle and point your toes to the ceiling to enhance your exercise. Hold briefly, then return your foot to the start position and repeat with the other leg.

Exercise 3

Wall Squats. Begin by finding a free wall in your home without anything on the wall. Bring your low back and shoulders against the wall and extend your feet about one foot length away from the wall. From this position, slide your back down the wall until a good contraction is needed to maintain your back from sliding down any further. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Slide back up to the starting position. Repeat 5 times.

Exercise 4

Standing Hamstring Curls: Begin by standing in back of your chair, feet hip width apart, chest lifted. Bring one heel back and up toward your buttock. Hold briefly, then return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times on each side.

If your knee is painful, or swollen, you will need to calm your symptoms down before strengthening. This can happen due to an injury or by overuse of your knee or lower legs. You will need to reduce the pain and swelling, and increase the range of motion first before starting a strengthening program. Generally, try to off-weight your leg using a cane or walker which will help with the pain. Then apply an ice pack throughout the day for 10 minutes at a time. When your motion and pain have been reduce enough to start exercising, you will be able to start with these exercises.

Make sure you consult with your primary doctor if you pain continues and you are unable to start exercising. This may be an indication of a knee problem that will need to be examined by a specialist in knees. They will examine your knee and make recommendations to continue to exercise and rehab your knee, or consider another treatment.

Don’t forget to perform a good warm up before starting your knee exercises. Warming up the leg muscles and knee are important to prevent any injuries, and limit any pain or swelling after exercise.

Exercises to strengthen knees, when performed correctly, will help improve your leg strength, balance your posture, increase the range of motion, and just simply make your daily tasks much easier and enjoyable. Start your knee strengthening program today, and continue 3 times a week for optimal results.

Let me know if you have any questions or would like to see other exercises or senior fitness content. You can leave your comments and suggestions on my About Page. Need personal help? Check out my new Academy. Exercise is really your magic pill to feel better and live longer. Remember to stay active, stay strong, and stay connected!

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Doug Schrift

Doug Schrift is a Physical Therapist, Certified Geriatric Specialist, and senior fitness coach. Doug helps seniors become strong and stable even if they have never exercised before.