Your knees bear the brunt of your weight when you walk or run. Over time, you may begin to feel pain that may restrict the range of motion within the joints.
"Knee extension is your ability to fully straighten your knee when standing or walking, which is very important because when your knee is not fully extended, it can create pressure through your hip and your back," says Dan Bartholomew, physical therapist at Sharp Grossmont Hospital's Outpatient Rehabilitation Center.
If you're wondering whether you are lacking knee extension range of motion, sit on the floor with both legs fully stretched in front of you. If one of your knees rests higher than the other, then that knee is the one to work on.
In the video above, Bartholomew shares two gentle knee stretches to help relieve pain, expand range of motion and improve strength. Before you start these stretches, talk with your physical therapist or doctor to see if these exercises are right for you.
1. Calf muscle stretch
For this exercise, you will need a stretching strap or waist belt. This stretch should be performed without pain.
- Sit on the floor with your back pressed up against a wall. Fully extend both legs in front of you in a relaxed position.
- Place the strap around the ball of one foot so that both of your hands can evenly hold each end.
- Pull gently back to feel a stretch in your calf. Avoid lifting your foot off the surface.
- To intensify the stretch, place both ends of the strap in one hand and place the other on the top of your thigh. Then press down gently as you pull the strap.
- Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and repeat it two to three times, for two different sessions per day.
2. Knee straightening stretch
For this exercise, you will need a small exercise ball, roughly 9 to 12 inches in diameter. It should also be performed without pain.
- Lean against a wall with your back and hips firmly planted. Place your feet shoulder-width apart and approximately 6 inches away from the wall.
- Then place the exercise ball behind your knee. Activate your quad muscles to straighten the knee to a comfortable position.
- Hold for three seconds then relax. Repeat for two sets of 10, once or twice a day.
If you're living with knee pain, don't miss a free upcoming seminar about Sharp HealthCare's nationally recognized approach to joint replacement. For more info, visit sharp.com/knee or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277).