The Bee’s Knees

Give your knees better support by strengthening the muscles around them.

Our knees are one of our largest joints. We overuse them when we move heavy items if we don’t have the abdominal strength to purely use our abs to support our backs. We don’t often exercise the larger muscles that run alongside the knees, and we should. Let’s show our knees some love with a few simple exercises. After all, knee replacements are no fun.

open-knees diamondsOpen-Knees Diamond

Start by lying on the floor on the left side of your body with your left arm extended under the left ear. Take your knees into a right angle in front of the body. Your right hand should be flat on the floor in front of you; use it like a kickstand for support. Point your toes, keep them connected, and separate the knees, making a diamond shape. Do as many slow reps as you can in 40 seconds. You should feel this exercise deep in the right thigh.

stretchAfter you’ve completed the reps, roll onto your back and take a Figure 4 stretch—put your right ankle above the left knee. Wrap your hands around the left leg and pull it toward your chest. Flex both feet to protect the knees. Repeat the stretch on the other side.

Reset yourself on your right side and repeat the open-knees diamond exercise.

round back plieRound Back Plié

Hold the back of a sturdy chair or high table; you can even do this at your bathroom counter. Inhale and curl your body forward. Your knees will want to pull back; don’t let them. Keep your knees forward directly above your ankles. Bend your knees, so your body moves down, then go back up. Do slow reps for 20 seconds. Then if you need more of a challenge, take faster reps for 10 seconds.

leg curlsLeg Curls

With your hands still on the chair, bend your right leg back, flexing through the foot, so that the bottom of the foot is parallel to the ceiling and your heel tries to touch your bottom. This exercise is like doing a bicep curl with your leg; think of your thigh as your bicep. This exercise strengthens your hamstrings, which support the knees. Do as many reps as you can in 30 seconds. When you are done with the right side, do the left.

These simple exercises don’t require any equipment and can protect your knees from everyday overuse.

Illustrations by Andriy Yankovskyy.

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