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2ndServe 05-05-2013 01:56 PM

best low impact exercises to strengthen knees
what are some low impact ones. Just split stepping really hurts my knees and I can't see myself playing many more years if this keeps up.

WildVolley 05-05-2013 02:24 PM


Originally Posted by 2ndServe (Post 7388160)
what are some low impact ones. Just split stepping really hurts my knees and I can't see myself playing many more years if this keeps up.

In my opinion, squats would be your best exercise as they are non-impact when done correctly, and hopefully the strengthening will help your knee pain.

Some of the top power lifters are ex-football players who ruined their knees playing football. The squats help stabilize the knees but whether the weight bearing will help heal the interior of the knee is debatable.

Chas Tennis 05-05-2013 06:51 PM

Is you pain under the knee cap? I have the very common cartilage issues there that, in my case, I believe are related to a tight rectus femorus - the only quad that originates above the hip joint. It can also be a more complicated issue where imbalances between the quads cause the patella to mis align in its cartilage track.

Patellar-femoral joint pain


Originally Posted by Chas Tennis (Post 7307375)
The knee has two joints - the one between the femur and tibia with the meniscus, etc., and the one under the knee cap, the patellar-femoral joint.

In my opinion, pain under the knee cap is often caused by posture issues, quad strength & tightness, as discussed in the above replies.

When I had an MRI for a torn meniscus, the MRI report included serious damage to the patellar-femoral joint. (Get the written MRI report from the imaging specialist, read it and research all issues even those not being treated or showing symptoms.)

One particular issue, that of a short/tight rectus femorus, is described in this link


The rectus femorus is special because it is the only quad that attaches above the hip joint, the other three quads attach to the femor.

I believe that this is a good description, believe that I have a short rectus femorus, and that the stretch is very effective in correcting it. It may be my over-simplified picture, but I believe that a tight rectus femorus simply causes the patella to ride too high in the joint. This damages the cartilage separating the patella from the femur. Some of the other better known patella tracking problems involve lateral tracking issues, the patella being pulled to the side or 'tilted' relative to the joint track.

Search: rectus femorus quadriceps anterior pelvic tilt

2ndServe 05-05-2013 08:54 PM

yes, right below the knee cap

Chas Tennis 05-05-2013 11:11 PM


Originally Posted by 2ndServe (Post 7388739)
yes, right below the knee cap

I would say that my mild pain is under the patella where it rides on the cartilage (on the femur). MRIs from another injury indicated that there is some cartilage damage there. When I do the above linked rectus femorus stretch the knees feel better.

I believe that there is a well-known injury below the knee cap that affects the tendon that connects the patella to the lower leg, the patella tendon.
I have not had that injury. I'd start researching runner's knee if your injury is in the patella tendon area.

Search illustrations for the knee joint.

Of course, there are many other causes of knee pain some of which are in the reference in reply #3.

Any strengthening exercises for muscles that may be too tight/short already should be prescribed by a physician who is specialized in those issues and posture. Medically trained physical therapists teach the exercises & stretches and make sure that you are doing them correctly while considering your injury.

charliefedererer 05-06-2013 10:29 AM

It sounds like you have the same problem that plagues Rafa, patellar tendonitis also known as "jumper's knee" or as Chas has above "runner's knee".

Chas gave you some good references, although you find them somewhat technical.

WebMD also has some good information - and you may find it a little easier to digest:
Jumper's Knee

Here's what it has to say on treatment:


"Physical Therapy

Most patients respond to a conservative management program such as the one suggested below.

Activity modification: Decrease activities that increase kneecap and upper leg pressure (for example, jumping or squatting). Certain "loading exercises may be prescribed.
Cryotherapy: Apply ice for 20 to 30 minutes, 4 to 6 times per day, especially after activity.
Joint motion and kinematics assessment: Hip, knee, and ankle joint range of motion are evaluated.
Stretching: Stretch (1) flexors of the hip and knee (hamstrings, gastrocnemius, iliopsoas, rectus femoris, adductors), (2) extensors of the hip and knee (quadriceps, gluteals), (3) the iliotibial band (a large tendon on the outside of the hip and upper leg), and (4) the surrounding tissues and structures of the kneecap.
Strengthening: Specific exercises are often prescribed.
Other sport specific joint, muscle, and tendon therapies may be prescribed."

These are examples of exercises that may be of help once the pain has subsided:

Many have muscle imbalances, and can benefit from the E-exercises in Pete Egoscue's book Pain Free
Posture Guy is an Egoscue therapist here on TT, and hopefully he will weigh in.

As wildvolley mentions above, once all the pain/inflammation has subsided, doing more heavy duty exercise by squatting could better strengthen the leg muscles than the above illustrated exercises that are meant more to start the rehab process.

Are you even one ounce overweight? If so, losing weight will decrease the stress your knees are under.

Some are fortunate enough to figure out how to treat themselves - but many do better getting help from a sports medicine specialist and/or therapist.

And be smart - give your knees a rest so they have a real chance to get better.

2ndServe 05-06-2013 12:27 PM

thanks, that's pretty detailed.

RogueFLIP 05-06-2013 06:21 PM

In conjuction to the stretching and strengthening advise given above, reducing soft tissue restrictions in the lower extremity may also contribute to reduced pain.

Foam rollers, tennis balls, etc. Or pay someone to find and reduce those restrictions.

Something you can do for yourself to decompress the patella and patella tendon is to use a sink plunger over the knee. If your knee is big enough, you can use the plunger right over the patella, you might have to adjust it a little to get decent suction.

Sitting up with the knee relaxed, try to adjust the plunger over the patella region to get a good grip. After you have gotten a good grip, gently pull up towards the ceiling; gently hold to maintain suction. Hold for 5 minutes to get good releases.

Use new plungers ($5 @ Home Depot) :twisted: Also you can use a little baby oil under the plunger to get a little more suction.

Won't cure anything, but unweighting and decompressing the patella can feel pretty darn good. Nothing wrong with feeling good!

And in conjuction with other stretching/strengthening can aid in speeding up recovery.

RogueFLIP 05-06-2013 06:30 PM

If the plunger can't fit, you can also use a knuckle to gently self massage your patella tendon. You can go up and down or across the tendon. Might feel a little grisly, but as long as you don't force anything, you can't hurt yourself.
Do that seated as well with the leg relaxed.

Also seated, you can use the index and thumb of both hands to pinch and try to raise the patella tendon in an effort to decompress the area. If you can get a good grip, try and hold for 5 minutes to get a good release.

You can also while seated use the same pincer grip as above to gently grab and lift the actual patella in an effort to raise and decompress the patella.
Same 5 minute hold if you can do it.

There won't be a lot of range of motion while lifting either structure, but the idea is really to try to unweight either the patella or the tendon as its being compressed down by the tight quadraceps.

Again, won't cure anything, but may give symptomatic relief if done gently. Almost like if the pressure was being released, if that makes sense.

LeeD 05-06-2013 07:01 PM

Some peeps say riding a bicycle.

fuzz nation 05-15-2013 05:48 AM


Originally Posted by LeeD (Post 7390707)
Some peeps say riding a bicycle.

Peeps like myself agree.

I coach, teach, and play on a rather busy schedule and I'm 47. If I get out for a nice ride maybe two or even three times a week, my knees have zero issues. I use a road bike, get out for 45 minutes to an hour, and I have those pedals that connect to the cleats on my shoes.

Nobody likes to be preached at, but I like to offer this exercise option for lots of people, especially tennis players. I absolutely need to preserve my "moving parts" since much of my work these days is done on the courts. Without a doubt, the one best thing I've done for myself to help with this has been riding my bike.

Bartelby 05-15-2013 05:56 AM

Same drill for quadriceps tendon injury?

Chas Tennis 05-15-2013 06:26 AM

Injured tendon? What do you have?

1) There are exercises and stretches for preventive injury conditioning of healthy muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. These are not for you if you are injured.

2) If you have an injury most probably the true details of the injury are unknown even if you have seen a Dr. Many tendons and ligaments attach to the bones over a very small area. How much has healed and can take the tremendous local tensions that occur at the injury site within the body's muscles, tendons and ligaments, etc.? How much has defectively healed over the years, for example, some of a tendon's tissue might already be characterized as tendinosis (with defective healing) while some tendon tissue might be tendinitis (with inflammation)? How long does it take for a muscle, tendon or ligament to heal and regain enough strength to function for stress or exercises?

These issues need a well-qualified Dr.

Bartelby 05-15-2013 06:32 AM

I have a tiny bit of inflammation in the quadiceps that went away and just came back, so it should go again soon.

it occurred after a jump and it's not much of a problem, but the fact that it came back is irritating.

It's definitely located above the top of the knee, but have only heard people talk of patella injuries.

My quadriceps need warming up or stabilising, perhaps?

Ducker 05-18-2013 11:41 AM

jump rope, you will thank me later.

jaggy 05-28-2013 05:21 PM


Originally Posted by LeeD (Post 7390707)
Some peeps say riding a bicycle.

Can a stationary bike replicate this and if so what is best, upright or recumbent?

LeeD 05-28-2013 05:43 PM

Talking strenthening knees here....
Recumbent or regular should make little difference, as resistance to pedal stroke is what you're looking for.
Now on the road, recumbants need a big tall flag, so cars can see you.
And normal bikes give a bit of upper body workout, especially the arms when standing up and climbing.
Now recumbants with arm pedal power helps exercise the arms, but then, not the legs.

Raul_SJ 05-29-2013 01:18 AM


Originally Posted by Ducker (Post 7424950)
jump rope, you will thank me later.

The original poster was looking for low impact knee exercises.

Don't know if jumping rope (even at low heights) is a low impact knee exercise.

jaggy 05-29-2013 08:23 AM


Originally Posted by LeeD (Post 7451472)
Talking strenthening knees here....
Recumbent or regular should make little difference, as resistance to pedal stroke is what you're looking for.
Now on the road, recumbants need a big tall flag, so cars can see you.
And normal bikes give a bit of upper body workout, especially the arms when standing up and climbing.
Now recumbants with arm pedal power helps exercise the arms, but then, not the legs.

Thanks, returning to play at 50, overweight so this should help.

limitup 05-30-2013 07:11 AM

The key to solving patella tracking problems, for most people, is actually pretty simple. Focus on strengthening the VMO so it can properly counter the pulling forces of the other 3 quad muscles, and also stretch your quads properly (if you stretch your quads properly you'll feel a really nice stretch way up high near your hips). These 2 things will solve patella tracking problems for 9 out of 10 people.

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