Common Causes of Weak Knees
The knee is an area of the body that is especially vulnerable to injury because it is the joint between the two longest bones of the body, and the weight of the body is transferred to the foot through the knee with movement. Common knee problems include sprained or strained ligaments, cartilage tears, tendonitis, and arthritis. Knee issues can also be due to illness like fatigue, hunger, dehydration, and blood sugar levels, as well as trauma to the area, lack of physical activity, nerve damage, overuse, and strains and sprains. Knee weakness can either be a serious health concern, such as one that is caused by an injury, or a simple inconvenience. Some of the most common types of knee injuries include:
A knee fracture is a broken bone or a crack around the joint of the knee. It involves the tibia, the kneecap, or femur, where they connect with the knee.
A dislocated knee is when the three bones of the knee are out of place and not in alignment with the way they should be. This happens when the structures of the knee are abnormal. While some people are born with a knee dislocation, it can also be caused by direct trauma to the knee, excessive pressure, and weak leg muscles.
- Anterior cruciate ligament injuries
An anterior cruciate ligament injury, better known as an ACL injury or tear, is a tear or sprain of the anterior cruciate ligament of the knee, which is one of the major knee ligaments. These injuries are quite common amongst athletes and happen during sports that involve sudden changes in direction, like soccer basketball, football, and downhill skiing.
- Posterior cruciate ligament injuries
It is common for athletes who play sports like football and soccer to tear their posterior cruciate ligament when falling on a bent knee. If this occurs, they tend to experience pain with swelling that steadily progresses, swelling that stiffens the knee to cause a limp, and difficulty walking.
- Collateral ligament injuries
Collateral ligament injuries are typically caused by a force pushing the knee sideways. This is typically a contact injury, and the tears tend to occur as the result of a direct blow to the outside of the knee that pushes the knee inwards. A partial tear happens when part of the ligament is torn, but a complete tear happens when the entire ligament is torn into two pieces.
- Meniscal tears
A meniscal tear is one of the most common knee injuries. This usually produces localized pain in the knee area that gets worse with twisting or squatting motions. However, those with torn meniscuses can typically walk, stand, sit, and sleep painlessly.
- Tendon tears
Torn and ruptured tendons tend to occur in middle-aged or older men. More than 90% of tendon injures are long-term, but 33-90% of the chronic rupture symptoms are alleviated without surgery. An acute rupture can be repaired surgically, depending on the tear’s severity.
How Can You Make Your Knees Stronger?
As with most weaknesses that you feel in the body, the best way to address it will depend on the cause as well as the severity. At ProFysio Physical Therapy, we are happy to help our patients identify the source of their pain and create a customized treatment plan that will promote long-term healing. Some of the most common exercises we might recommend for patients who want to strengthen their knees include:
- Leg lifts
The reason that leg lifts are so effective at helping weak knees is because the strengthen the hamstrings, which are the muscles in the back of the thighs. Leg lifts also strengthen core muscles, improve flexibility, enhance balance and stability, burn calories, and decrease risk of back injuries.
- Standing hamstring curls
The standing hamstring curl is a great exercise for improving balance and strength and toning the hamstring muscles. Standing hamstring curls are also great for stretching the thigh muscles.
- Step exercises
Because step exercises are so effective at improving your leg strength, they can prevent injury in the knees and strengthen the knees after healing from injury. Step-ups hit all the major muscle groups in the lower body, improving strength and overall resilience.
- Chair dips
Chair dips are best known for their ability to strengthen the muscles in the chest, triceps, shoulders, and back. When working on improving the knees, it is important to work your entire body with a combination of low-impact exercises that strengthen, stabilize, and improve knee pain.
- Wall squats
Wall squats are an isometric, quad, and glute-strengthening exercise that are an excellent way to build stability in the knees. This exercise is especially helpful for those who already have knee injuries because it is performed in a fixed position with additional support from the wall. Wall squats also build strength and endurance in the glutes, calves, quads, and abdominal muscles.
- Calf raises
Calf raises work to strengthen the calf muscles, which helps the hamstrings and provides the knee with support and stability. This simple, low-impact method is also great for those who are already injured, and they can help decrease the risk of injury in the future.
- Leg presses
For some patients, the leg press machine can add an unhealthy amount of pressure to various parts of the leg area, so it is important to consult with a trained professional who is familiar with your condition when attempting this exercise. If it is an ideal exercise for your body, it can be great for developing the glutes, hamstrings, and calves, all of which can ultimately provide knee support.
When working on knee strength, especially when dealing with injury or potential injury, it is important to learn the correct exercises for your condition and the best ways to perform them. Call ProFysio Physical Therapy at (732) 812-5200 or contact us online to learn how our team can help.