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Basic muscle-conditioning exercises

Basic muscle-conditioning exercises

Here are a few exercises you can do to begin increasing your strength. Increase your activity level slowly, following the suggestions in each exercise.

Wall push-ups

Wall push-ups
slide 1 of 4
slide 1 of 4, Wall push-ups,
  1. Stand facing a wall, about 12 to 18 inches away.
  2. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height.
  3. Slowly bend your elbows and bring your face toward the wall, moving your hips and shoulders forward together.
  4. Push slowly back to the starting position.
  5. Start with 5 repetitions and work up to 8 to 12.
  6. Rest for a minute and repeat the exercise.

When you can do this exercise against a wall comfortably (without your muscles feeling tired), you can try it against a counter. Start with 5 repetitions again and work up to 8 to 12. You can then slowly progress to the end of a couch or a sturdy chair, and finally to the floor.

Knee extension

Knee extension (quadricep exercise)
slide 2 of 4
slide 2 of 4, Knee extension,
  1. While sitting in a chair, straighten one leg and hold while you slowly count to 5. Be sure you don't lock your knee.
  2. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
  3. Rest for a minute and repeat the exercise.
  4. Do the same exercise with the other leg.

If this exercise becomes easy, you can add a light weight around your ankle or tie an elastic resistance band to a chair leg and one ankle.

Side-lying leg lift

Side-lying leg lift
slide 3 of 4
slide 3 of 4, Side-lying leg lift,
  1. Lie on your side, with your legs extended. Keep your hips straight up and down during this exercise; don't let your top hip rock toward the back. Support your head with your hand, and place the other hand on the floor near your waist.
  2. Slowly raise your upper leg until it is about in line with your shoulder. Keep your toes pointed forward.
  3. Slowly lower your leg to the starting position.
  4. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
  5. Rest for a minute and repeat the exercise.
  6. Turn to your other side and do the same exercise with your other leg.

If this exercise becomes easy, you can add a light weight around your ankle or tie an elastic resistance band to both ankles.

Shallow standing knee bends

Shallow standing knee bends
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slide 4 of 4, Shallow standing knee bends,
  1. Stand with your hands lightly resting on a counter or chair in front of you with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Slowly bend your knees so that you squat down just like you were going to sit in a chair. Make sure your knees don't go in front of your toes.
  3. Lower yourself about 6 in. (15.2 cm). Your heels should remain on the floor.
  4. Rise slowly to a standing position.
  5. Repeat 8 to 12 times.
  6. Rest for a minute and repeat the exercise.

Shallow standing knee bends build strength in the muscles on top of your thigh. This exercise should only be done if you have very minimal pain; if you have no clicking, locking, or giving way in the injured knee; and if it doesn't hurt while you are doing 8 to 12 repetitions.

Current as of: May 12, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine

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