Runners' Exercises for Knee Strength
Strengthen the muscles around your knee. It's one of the most important things you can do to avoid running injuries. A combination of strength exercises and stretches can help make your knees less prone to injury. If you find yourself with persistent and severe knee pain, it's important to rest and ice your knee while you allow it to recover or seek professional guidance on what the problem may be.
Build strength in your quadriceps, the muscles that run down the tops of your thighs, to help prevent knee injuries. Do this by performing wall squats. Stand about 2 feet out from a wall, with your back facing the wall and your feet hip-width apart. Lean back so that your entire back is touching the wall. Slowly lower yourself to a siting position, with your back against the wall. Make sure your knees are directly over your ankles. You risk injury if your knees come forward past your ankles. Hold the sitting position for about 30 seconds, then slowly rise to standing position. Do five repeats of this exercise.
Strengthen your hips and stretch your IT band, or iliotibial band. The IT band runs from the outside of the pelvis to the outside of the knee; irritation is a common cause of knee pain in runners. According to Runner's World magazine, a good way to stretch your IT band is to perform a cross-legged, standing side stretch. Stand with both feet on the floor, your right foot crossed over your left foot. Raise your arms overhead and lean your upper body to the right as far as you can without bending your knees. Hold for 10 seconds, and perform the same stretch on the other side.
Calves and Hamstrings
Keep your calves and hamstrings limber to avoid knee injuries. Stretch the calves and hamstrings by leaning against a wall, with both feet pointed toward the wall. Place your right foot back behind you, and stretch heel toward the floor with the foot as far back as you can stretch. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other side.