Best Exercises to Strengthen the Knee


A basketball player is only as strong as their weakest muscle. Okay, so maybe that is not how the phrase goes exactly, but it does hold some truth. Basketball demands sprinting, jumping, and pivoting multiple times per game. This puts enormous strain on the knees. Players can hope that they execute each move flawlessly, but more often than not, this constant strain, even if performed perfectly, can lead to painful knee injuries. Rather than relying on chance, adding exercises to strengthen the knees will help achieve a healthy, strong basketball season.

Quad Exercises

Knee pain often comes from weak quads, glutes, and calves. For example, when it comes to the quads, the vastus medialis obliques (VMO) keeps the knee straight and absorb shock during various movements. If the VMO becomes weak,  knee instability and pressures on the knee joint often follow. Exercises like lateral heel drops will combat potential injuries by helping the quad muscles grow stronger, absorb shock better, and reduce knee pain and muscle friction.

Lateral Heel Drops

  1. Stand with your one leg on the floor and the other resting on a step.

  2. Push off the leg that is on the step until both legs are straight.

  3. Slowly lower your foot back to the ground.

  4. Repeat 10-15 times for 3 sets and then switch legs.

Glute Exercises

Glute muscles are responsible for hip adduction and abduction, or the rotating of your legs and hips inwards and outwards. If a player suffers from weak glutes, the risk of incorrect rotations and unstable foot landings rises. One wrong step can send an immense amount of pressure and shock straight to the knee joints instead of the glute muscles that could absorb it better. Get your glutes gear by doing some glute bridges to during practice for increased knee stabilization.

Glute Bridges

  1. Start by lying on the floor. Bend your legs and have your feet in line with your hips.

  2. Lift your butt towards the ceiling. Hold for one second. Be sure to avoid arching your back!

  3. Lower down to just above the floor.

  4. Repeat for 10 reps.

Calf Exercises

Last, but certainly not least, are the calves. Tightness or weakness in the calf muscles reduce their ability to absorb shock from jumping, sprinting, and landing hard on the court. This will force the knee to take the brunt of the impact. This opens the door to a whole world of knee pain and injury. Add calf exercises like heel lifts to make sure your calves are ready to support your knees this basketball season.

Heel Lifts

  1. Start by standing upright and slightly bending your knees. Your feet should be about shoulder-width apart and your arms should be by your sides with the palms facing forwards.

  2. Stand on your tip-toes for a few seconds.

  3. Lower back to the starting position.

  4. Repeat 15 times for three sets.

There is a lot more that goes into strong knees than one might think. Strong quads, glutes, and calves are the key to having healthy knees throughout the basketball season. Take an extra protective step by gearing up with knee braces for basketball from Bauerfeind. From the injury-preventative sports line to the healing medical line, Bauerfeind’s basketball knee braces will also help keep your knees protected.