This weekend’s challenge is a low-impact, seated exercise that strengthens the femur and knee joint.
Low-impact exercises are especially beneficial if you suffer from knee pain and would like to strengthen your leg muscles and stabilize the joint without applying a lot of gravitational force. If you do experience painful knees, it’s worth addressing the problem, and not just because it’s uncomfortable. Research shows that knee pain leads to a greater dependence on caregivers in performing everyday tasks.
There’s good news, too – the latest data shows that exercises like the Femur Strengthener And Knee Pain Preventer relieve knee pain, even in cases of osteoarthritis.
So I’m thrilled to share with you this weekend’s exercise, and to explore these studies, and more. Let’s get started!
The primary muscles worked in the Femur Strengthener And Knee Pain Preventer are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and the inner and outer thigh muscles.
The quadriceps (quads) are a four-fold muscle in the front of your thigh. They are responsible for extension (straightening) of the knee.
The hamstrings are located along the back of the thigh, and they are responsible for knee flexion (bending the knee).
On the outside of your thighs, you’ll find the stabilizing muscles responsible for adduction and abduction of the legs. Adduction brings your legs toward the center of your body; abduction does the opposite, moving them away from your body’s center.
The inner thigh consists mainly of the adductor longus, brevis, minimus and magnus, as well as the sartorius (which runs between your lower pelvis, across your thigh, and into your inner knee) and the gracilis, which runs between your groin and the inside of your knee.
The outer thigh is composed of the vastus lateralis (part of the quads), the tensor fasciae latae (which runs between your hip and the outer top of your thigh), and a band of connective tissue called the iliotibial band, which runs from the top outside of your pelvis down to the outside of your knee. This band connects to the quads and hamstrings to prevent excessive rotation of your leg.
All of these muscles work together to rotate, stabilize, bend, lift, and otherwise move your leg in all directions. And they all connect to the thigh bone (femur) in various places. The femur is of special concern because bisphosphonates, such as Fosamax, Boniva, Reclast – to name a few – are the most commonly-prescribed class of osteoporosis drugs, and studies show they can cause femoral fractures, especially with long-term use.
But the benefits of this move go beyond the femur, to include the knee joint. If you suffer or have suffered from knee pain, then you know how debilitating it can be, especially if the joint is inflamed. But don’t worry, because a study has shown that exercising the thigh muscles can prevent osteoarthritis.
Strong Thigh Muscles Prevent Osteoarthritis
A mix of female and male adult volunteers were divided into two groups based on whether they were diagnosed with knee arthritis. Both groups had their thigh muscle strength tested by MRI, and the participants’ age averaged 61 years.
After adjusting for body mass index (obesity is a known contributor to knee pain and arthritis), they found that women had a 47% greater chance of developing knee arthritis if their quadriceps were weak, and a 41% greater likelihood if their hamstrings were weak. Interestingly, the same correlation was not found in men.1
The study authors theorize that strong thigh muscles take the load off of the cartilage in the knee, preventing the wear and tear that characterizes osteoarthritis. A possible reason why the same preventative effects were not seen in men could be due to their greater body mass; muscles simply do not respond the same way in those with larger body mass.1
More Reasons For Relieving Knee Pain
Another study found still more motivation for working out toward less knee pain. A three-year cohort study among 1,391 adults over 65 was conducted in Japan. All of the participants had knee pain, and researchers found that those who “always had knee pain were more likely to become dependent”2 on help for everyday activities, and that:
“…knee pain was associated with a need for assistance at home…”2
Given the manifold benefits to thigh-strengthening exercises, let’s take a look at today’s move…but first, it’s important to be aware of some cautions:
- Check with your doctor, physical therapist, or personal trainer before performing any leg-extension exercises if you have damaged ligaments, or if you are recovering from any knee injury or surgery, including ACL surgery.
- Stop this exercise immediately if you feel any sharp pain.
- For the advanced version, use a light weight to avoid injury or damage to your knee.
Now for the exercise!
- Sit up straight on the edge of a chair with your feet together. Place your hands on either side of the chair seat.
- Raise one foot off the floor, keeping your knee bent. Then extend your lifted leg out straight.
- Bend your knee to bring your foot back beside the other one and place it on the floor.
- Repeat this extension exercise 10 to 15 times, or as many as you can comfortably do.
- Switch legs and repeat another 10-15 extensions with the other leg.
With your doctor’s approval, you can try the Advanced Version by doing the above exercise with ankle weights.
If you like, follow up this exercise with these Weekend Challenges:
For even more knee pain-relieving exercise, take up walking or dancing! Two studies show that both of these activities relieve knee pain.
In the first study, approximately 1,800 elderly volunteers with knee osteoarthritis who walked 6,000 or more steps (around 3 miles) per day for seven days were protected against mobility problems (such as difficulty getting up from a chair or going up and down stairs). In fact, the participants’ mobility improved 18% with each 1,000 steps.3
The second study evaluated dancing for knee pain relief. Seniors who participated in dancing for several months reported decreased knee pain and an ability to walk faster. In addition, the dancers were able to reduce their intake of acidifying pain medication by 39%. The non-dancers actually increased their pain medication by 21%.4
Take Care Of Your Knees With Regular Exercise
With the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System, you’ll find many exercises that target your thigh muscles and knees, such as the Chair Knee Lift (page 38), Rear Leg Lift (page 40), and Chair Squat (page 27). Of course, Densercise™ has over 52 moves that address the whole body as well, particularly areas prone to fracture, such as ankles, hips, and more.
All “Densercises” can be practiced in the comfort of your own home, without any special equipment, and you can reap the benefits in just 15 minutes a day, three days a week.
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
Enjoy the weekend!
1 Culvenor, Adam G., et al. “Thigh muscle specific strength and the risk of incident knee osteoarthritis: The influence of sex and greater body mass index.” Arthritis Care and Research. (2017). Web. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/acr.23182/full
2 Nishiwaki, Yuji, et al. “Knee Pain and Future Self-Reliance in Older Adults: Evidence From a Community-Based 3-Year Cohort Study in Japan.” J Epidemiol. 21. 3. (2011): 184-190. PDF. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jea/21/3/21_JE20100118/_pdf
3 White, Daniel K., et al. “Daily Walking and the Risk of Incident Functional Limitation in Knee Osteoarthritis: An Observational Study.” Arthritis Care and Research. 66. 9. (2014): 1328-1336. Web. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/acr.22362/abstract
4 Krampe, Jean, PhD, RN, CPHQ, et al. “Does dance-based therapy increase gait speed in older adults with chronic lower extremity pain: A feasibility study.” Geriatric Nursing. 35. 5. (2014): 339-344. Web. https://www.gnjournal.com/article/S0197-4572(14)00142-6/reference