Knee Strengthening Exercises With Thera-Bands
The Thera-Band began as a therapeutic and rehabilitation product, and gradually stretched its way into the world of general conditioning. As the fitness industry gained knowledge and sophistication, it borrowed techniques from the rehabilitation community and soon discovered that the therapeutic exercises prescribed for injuries might provide protection against those same injuries. Your knees, in particular, benefit from Thera-Band knee strengthening exercise.
The leg extension, which isolates the quadriceps or frontal thigh muscles, is one of the most controversial thigh exercises, because it places destabilizing shearing forces on your knee ligaments, according to the website for the Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy Institute of Dallas Inc. In contrast, exercises that keep your feet in a fixed position, which are called closed chain exercises, create stabilizing compression forces. Thera-Bands create a closed chain quadriceps exercise. Make a loop with your band and attach it above your knee. Secure the band to a stable object in front of your legs, and step backward until the band is taut. Slowly bend your knee, and straighten it against the band's resistance.
Seated Gliding Leg Curl
Weak hamstrings make your knees prone toward hyper-extension, making you vulnerable to knee ligament tears. Placing a towel under your foot turns the hamstring curl into a closed chain exercise. Sit upright at the edge of a chair, and loop the band around one of your ankles. Attach the band to a stable object in front of you, and place a hand towel under your foot. Begin with your leg straight, and slowly bend your knee, gliding your heel along the floor. Straighten your leg with control. The towel adds extra friction to the exercise and makes it more challenging. This exercise works best on a waxed, wood or linoleum floor.
The chair squat is an intense lower body exercise and is also highly effective training for athletes who must remain in a bent-knee position for extended periods. Sit at the edge of a chair, separate your feet to hip-width apart, and place the band under both feet. Hold each end of the band near each hip. Lean forward at your waist, and lift your hips a few inches from the chair. Touch your hips back to the chair, and repeat immediately. This exercise builds muscular endurance in your knee joints.
Single Leg Mini Squat
The single leg mini squat targets the vastus medialis. This muscle group, tasked with the last few degrees of leg extension, plays a key role in knee-joint protection, says physical therapist Joe Heiler. The single leg squat also enhances balance, and trains your inner and outer thigh muscles to stabilize your medial and lateral knee joints. Stand with one foot at the center of the band, and bring the ends of the band toward your shoulders. Bend your opposite leg and lift it a few inches from the floor. Slowly bend your standing leg, keeping your kneecap in a centered position. Visualize your inner and outer thigh muscles as two guard rails that prevent your knee from sliding in either direction, and imagine that your knee is a headlight on your car, pointing directly ahead.
In 1999, Lisa Mercer’s fitness, travel and skiing expertise inspired a writing career. Her books include "Open Your Heart with Winter Fitness" and "101 Women's Fitness Tips." Her articles have appeared in "Aspen Magazine," "HerSports," "32 Degrees," "Pregnancy Magazine" and "Wired." Mercer has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the City College of New York.