Friday, October 11, 2013

Stronger Knees

Years ago, I was a competitive power lifter. After 10 years my shoulders had both come apart and I could not deny the pain I had in my knees. I knew people who had decades of experience training and competing without the injuries I had. Some people are just built for it and I was not one of them. As much as I loved lifting, it was not for me. I knew that I needed to have all of my joints working properly. So, how do we train and protect our knees?

There are essentially two ways to protect your knees, nutrition and exercise. This article is going to look at exercises and stretches that stabilize our knees.


When all the muscles that support your knees are strong and flexible your knee joint is stabilized. The three muscle groups here are quadriceps (you thighs), hamstrings (the back of your legs), and your calves.

Strength building is important, but flexibility through stretching is equally important. Tight muscles are ready for injury whereas limber, more flexible muscles are better prepared to handle the rigors of life.

Stretching the muscles that you strengthen is an important part of preventing injury. Strengthening exercises build muscle to help support your knee, but can also tighten the muscles. Tight muscles are more prone to injury. Gentle stretching after strengthening exercise reduces muscle soreness and will keep your muscles long and flexible.

Strength and flexibility are both equally important. Don't think so? Try these exercises and stretches to see how your knee comfort can improve. First, and always, talk to your doctor before starting or changing your activities.

Start slowly and take your time. My lifting coach and martial arts instructors all said the same thing. Form first. Take it easy, perfect your form, and the strength will follow.

If you have pain, which is different from soreness, means you need to stop. Do not hurt yourself trying to get to your goal.

Be patient, remember, strength will come. Just be sure that you are doing the stretches and exercises with proper form.

Again, talk to your doctor. Unless your knees already sound like rice cereal, they should be happy to hear that you are taking better care of your knees. 

I prefer to stretch daily and not just before or after a workout. Strive to perform each stretch for 30 seconds for each of three sets.

Stand with feet together, legs straight, bend down and relax. Let gravity pull you further down, relax with each exhalation. You will find that reaching your toes or the floor is easier when your body and mind relax.

Feet flat on the floor, step forward with your right foot two feet to start. Press your left heel down and bend your right knee. Do not allow your right knee to go forward past your knees, keep your upper body straight up, and allow your weight to lower down through your hips. Gold for 30 seconds, three sets each leg

Stand near a wall or a piece of sturdy exercise equipment for support. Grasp your ankle and gently pull your heel up and back until you feel a stretch in the front of your thigh. Tighten your stomach muscles to prevent your stomach from sagging outward, and keep your knees close together, hold for about 30 seconds, three sets each leg.

Low Impact Exercises
Bicycle riding, gentle rowing, walking, swimming are excellent activities to strengthen the muscles around your knees AND, as they are low impact, allow your knees to get stronger with a minimum of discomfort

Your knees are vitally important and keeping them pain free will make all the difference. Stay healthy and stay strong with your family.

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