The knees offer you two motions -- flexion and extension. Knee extension occurs when you move your leg to a straight position, while flexion occurs when you bend your knee and move your heel backward. When your knees creak, this is an indicator that the connective tissue might be damaged. This may be from an old injury or joint conditions like arthritis. Your best bet is to strengthen the quadriceps and hamstrings, which give the knees support. Before doing any new exercises, talk it over with your health care provider.
The leg extension strengthens the quadriceps muscle that runs down the front of the thigh above the knee. A leg extension machine works the quads from a seated position. Place your feet under the padded roller and push against it to move the lower arm up. Once your knees are just short of locking out, lower it back down and repeat.
You also have the option of doing this exercise with ankle weights if you want a lighter resistance. Sit in a chair with the ankle weights strapped around your lower legs. Steadily raise one leg out in front of your body just short of locking out your knee. Slowly lower it back down, repeat for a set of reps and switch sides.
Seated leg curls work the hamstrings on the back of the thighs. Begin by sitting on the seat of the leg curl machine and place your legs in the padded supports with the back of your ankles resting on the roller of the lever arm. Steadily push down by bending your knees and move your heels toward your butt. Once you have gone as far as possible, slowly return the lever arm back to the starting position and repeat.
For a variation, lie face-down on the floor with a resistance band attached to your ankle and a sofa leg. Steadily move your heel up toward your butt and lower it back down slowly. Keep your thigh pressed against the floor throughout.
Isometric exercises involve no repetitive joint movement. A chair pose is a yoga exercise that falls into this category. These types of exercises are beneficial when you are experiencing a high degree of pain. Begin the chair pose by standing with your feet hip-width apart and reaching your arms straight above your head. After turning your palms to face each other, slowly lower yourself down by bending your knees. Once your thighs parallel the floor or you start to feel discomfort, hold until you feel fatigued. You also have the option of doing a similar exercise against a wall called the wall sit. Simply rest your back tight to the wall and slide down until your knees, hips and ankles form 90-degree angles. Hold this position until you become fatigued, and slowly release.
Low-impact cardio is a good option to improve muscular endurance and range of motion in your knees. Your best bet is to do cycling or water aerobics. Exercise bikes come in upright and recumbent styles. A recumbent bike has a bucket seat with a back rest and the pedals are out in front of your body. Water aerobics strengthens your muscles when you push through the resistance of the water.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.