The Best and Worst Exercises for Bad Knees

Exercise may be the best medicine for chronic achy knees.

"Strengthening the muscles around the joint protects you from injury by decreasing stress on the knee," says Willibald Nagler, MD, chairman of rehabilitation medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Campus in New York City.

But you must use good form and technique.

The First Commandment

Never bend your legs to a point where your knees stick out past your toes. That puts a lot of pressure under the kneecap. This not only applies to the following exercises but also when you're stretching or doing aerobic activities such as step aerobics.

Except where stated, do 10 to 12 repetitions of each of the following, two or three times a week.

Best Exercises to Do

Partial Squats

Stand about 12 inches away from the front of a chair with your feet about hip width apart and your toes forward. Bending at the hips, slowly lower yourself halfway down to the chair. Keep your abs tight, and check that your knees stay behind your toes.

More: 3 Squat Variations and Proper Technique Tips

Step-ups

Using an aerobic step bench or a staircase, step up onto the step with your right foot. Tap your left foot on the top of the step, and then lower. As you step up, your knee should be directly over your ankle. Repeat with your left foot.

Side-lying Leg Lifts

Wearing ankle weights above the knee, lie on your left side, legs straight and together, with your left arm supporting your head. Keeping your right foot flexed and your body straight, slowly lift your right leg to about shoulder height, then slowly lower. Repeat with your left leg.

More: 4 Lower Body Workouts for Stronger Legs

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