Knee pain is very common and too often it stops people from working out and engaging in sports activities with the frequency and intensity they would like. For many of us, there has been a sports related injury such as a previously torn ligament or maybe a surgery to remove some debris or floating cartilage in the knee joint. For others it might just be wear and tear from being active your whole life. Regardless of your history, if you are experiencing pain in your knees now or would like to strengthen the knees to avoid such injury occurring in the future, here are some tips for workouts.
Working the ligaments and tendons within the knee joint will improve the proprioception, or space awareness, and stability of the joint which is good for a couple reasons. One, it will decrease the incidence of injury occurring. Two, the stronger the joint, the stronger the muscles around the joint can become, which will improve every aspect of your performance. These exercises would include single leg squats, lunges onto an Exerdisc, or a single leg Romanian deadlift.
As you probably already know, running on pavement is not the best choice for maintaining healthy knees. Factors that can worsen the situation are consistently running on one side of the road, running downhill, and improper footwear. If you thoroughly enjoy running, as I do, consider shorter distances, running on a school track, treadmill or dirt trail that has a forgiving.
Exercises to avoid
There are some exercises to avoid if you are suffering from knee pain when working out. The leg extension puts an enormous amount of shearing force on the knee joint creating unwanted stress. Any bending exercise where your knees go beyond your toes creates a sharp angle between the upper and lower leg, and the sharper the angle, the more stress is placed on the knee joint. This would include watching form closely on lunges and squatting movements. Remember to bend at the hips not the knees!
Muscles to strengthen
Strengthening muscles around the knee joint can optimize safe movement and decrease the incidence of injury and decrease pain. The hamstring and calf muscles surround the knee joint and by having a balanced strength relationship with the quads, you will have a stronger knee joint. The good thing is you can strengthen the calves and hamstrings without putting stress in the knees!
The knees take a lot of abuse through activity, sports and exercise. Learning how to maintain the integrity of the joint by proper strengthening and stretching and stabilizing exercises will keep your knees as pain free and mobile as possible so you can stay active in the sports and activities you love.