Deep Dive into the Knee

By Alicia Oberholzer PT, DPT, OCS, Warm Springs Holistic Health


The knee is a hinge joint that connects the upper and lower leg. It bends, straightens, and also rotates in small degrees. The bones in the knee are stabilized by four ligaments known as the ACL, PCL, MCL, and LCL. Each knee also has a meniscus, which is cartilage that sits between the upper leg bone (femur) and lower leg bone (tibia) to aid in shock absorption.

The knee is further supported by local groups of muscles known as the quads and hamstrings. Strengthening these muscles with a focused and consistent program can help to reduce joint pain and prevent injury.

Quadriceps: The quadriceps, commonly referred to as “quads,” are a group of four muscles known as the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, and vastus lateralis. The quads work to straighten the knee and stabilize the joint in weight bearing.

Examples of exercises that work the quads include squats, lunges, step up/downs, and box jumps.

Hamstrings: The hamstring group is made up of three muscles called the biceps femoris, semimembranosus, and semitendinosus. These muscles help to bend the knee, extend the upper thigh, and stabilize the knee and hip.

Examples of exercises that strengthen the hamstrings include deadlifts, hamstring bridges, and kettlebell swings.

Exercises for the muscles around the hips and the ankles can also be very beneficial for the knee. The body moves together holistically and is much more than a sum of its parts!

If you have additional questions about the knee, please reach out to the Physical Therapy team at Warm Springs Holistic Health for more information. We are accepting new patients for both in-person and telehealth visits on a referral basis.

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