Knee flexion and extension exercises target mainly your quadriceps and hamstrings which are used in most of your lower body ranges of motion.
This includes walking, running, jumping and squatting among others.
Known to be mostly for those recovering from injuries that affect your motion, the exercise is quite a good rehabilitation for your knees and legs.
STEPS FOR KNEE FLEXION:
Required equipment: A pair of ankle weights.
- Put on your ankle weights
- Stand behind a sturdy support surface or object, which could be a chair or a wall. Rest your hands on the back of the chair for support.
- Face forward and keep your head in line with your spine. Place your feet shoulder-width apart slightly bending your knees and pelvis level.
- Bend your right leg to bring your heel up towards your glutes as high as you can or until your calf is parallel to the floor
- Pause for two seconds and lower your right heel back to the ground.
- Complete ten repetitions of this and do the same for your left leg, this being one set. Rest for thirty seconds, then complete the second and third sets.
Do not arch your back while doing the knee flexion exercise nor should you let the knee of the working leg move forward beyond the hip.
STEPS FOR KNEE EXTENSION:
Required equipment: Ankle weights and a Chair.
- Put on your ankle weights
- Sit in the chair resting your hips and back against the back of the chair. Make a ninety-degree angle with your knees, only having your toes on the ground.
- Make sure your feet are shoulder-width apart. Rest your arms on your thighs.
- Extend your right leg out as far as possible trying to make it parallel with the floor. Pause for two seconds when your leg reaches the highest point you can lift without straining.
- Slowly lower your leg back to the ground.
- Complete ten repetitions of this and d the same with your left foot, this is one set. Rest for thirty seconds and do the same for two more sets.
Remember to not lean forward and have your back as straight as possible.
TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
Start with a weight that is easily manageable for you, about 5 kilograms, then you can continue to increase the weight as you progress and get stronger.
WHAT MUSCLES DO KNEE FLEXION AND EXTENSION WORK?
Knee flexion and extension are lower body exercises that work the sartorius and quadriceps femoris which bring about the extension of your leg.
Biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus bring about flexion.
BENEFITS OF DOING KNEE FLEXION AND EXTENSION
STRENGTHENS LEG MUSCLES
Knee extensions and flexion are key exercises in strengthening the patellar ligament and quadriceps.
The exercise mainly focuses on strengthening the quads alone, hence strengthening key attachments to the knee joint at the same time.
HELPS DURING INJURY REHABILITATION
When performed while seated knee extension and flexion reduces the impact of the weight on the knee and instead strengthens the muscles around it.
ALTERNATIVES OF KNEE FLEXION AND EXTENSION
BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUATS
This exercise targets your hips, glutes as well as quads making it a great leg extension alternative.
To do it: (requires a bench or a small raised platform)
- Stand with your back to the raised platform, place your hands in front of your chest, interlocking them or making a prayer gesture.
- Make sure your legs are shoulder-width apart, split them into a lunge stance, resting the top of your left foot on the raised platform. Plant your right foot firmly on the floor.
- Bend your right leg to lower your left knee. Lower yourself until your right thigh is parallel with the floor and your left knee almost touches the floor.
- Push into your right foot and return to the starting position.
- Repeat this motion for ten reps of two sets, then switch your legs and repeat.
This exercise requires good balance and once you begin to advance you can add dumbbells to make it a tad harder for yourself.
Step-ups are effective for strengthening your quads, glutes, and hip flexors. They also improve balance and hip mobility.
You will require a bench or a slightly raised platform that is about knee height or lower.
To do it:
- Stand facing the bench with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your hands on your hips and straighten your torso.
- Place your right foot on top of the bench, keep your right knee over your right ankle.
- Push off your left foot to step onto the bench. Place your left foot next to your right foot and stand up straight.
- Step your right foot back and onto the floor. Repeat with your left foot to return to starting position.
- Do this for ten reps for three sets.
If you wish to increase the intensity you could add dumbbells which you will hold with your hands at your sides for full extension.
KNEE FLEXION AND EXTENSION MISTAKES TO AVOID
GOING TOO FAST
Doing this exercise fast causes you to use momentum to lift your feet rather than muscle engagement.
This will reduce the effect of the exercise on your muscles and with time may cause injury due to the alternating, forceful range of motion for your knees.
LOCKING YOUR KNEES
Locking your knees once you reach full extension is a common mistake for most beginners. This can strain the knee joint and bring about injury.
Instead, let your knee move through a single full range of motion, resisting the weight as you move your knee back to the start position.
HAVING HIGH REPS
At a moderate load, you should not exceed twelve reps per set. Higher reps will overwork your knee joint and instead of making it stronger, will weaken it.
NOT WARMING UP FIRST
This can lead to extensive injury due to your joints still being stiff from not being in motion. It may also strain your knee as you attempt to lift the weight your knee will keep locking leading to damage.
Ensure to warm up properly mostly your joints before attempting the exercise.
Knee flexion and extension exercises are very effective in strengthening your knee joint, especially for those going through rehab for injuries related to your knees.
It is quite easy to do and can be done with or without weight all you would require is a place to sit or a support structure. Making it quite easy to incorporate into your daily workout routine.