18 July 2008 ~ Comments Off on Knee Exercises

Knee Exercises

Knee health is critical and will have a profound impact on your daily life. Do you find yourself struggling to run, bend your knees or getting out of your seat without feeling knee pain? This could be due to joint issues, but most likely this is because you haven’t taken proper care of your knee. You should strengthen the muscles around your knee to prevent a lot of stress on the joints. Your nutrition should also satisfy a need to promote healthy joints. So, are you ready to take your knee care to the next level with some knee exercises?

Before I begin talking about the various exercises that are associated with a healthy knee, I want to go over a few things that could begin benefiting your knee right away. A few things that you can take to aid your nutrition program are fish oil and joint supplements. I won’t go into detail about the many benefits associated with fish oil, but among them is their ability to promote joint care. The fatty acids help to reduce the tenderness in your joints, decrease any kind of morning stiffness and have even been proven to decrease the need for medication for arthritis patients. This inexpensive supplement should be taken to aid your knee health.

You should also consider taking joint supplements. Although they are more expensive than fish oil, they can provide great benefits especially if you exercise often. Try to get the ones that have MSM, Chondroitin and Glucosamine. These three nutrients are very effective for supporting joint health.

Ok, now that you know how you can better take care of your knees through your supplements, let me give you some knee exercises that you can do to strengthen the muscles around your knee.

SquatsThe first exercise to do is squats. However, when you do these, make sure that you go down lower than parallel. Yes, lower than parallel. If you only go down to parallel, then you are putting the strain all on your knee joints which is very bad for your knee. Another common way to injure your knee while squatting is relaxing at the bottom position. Never do this, this is improper form and can have damaging effects. However, when you go lower than parallel, you are building the muscles around your knee. You will also incorporate your glutes more in this movement, and that is always an added plus! To perform a proper ATG (ass-to-grass) squat follow these guidelines and practice with no weight before you add weight.

  1. You should always squat in a power rack or cage so that you are squatting safely. You should set it up so that you can drop the bar if you need to and always make sure that you have your weights locked.
  2. During your squat, keep your head pulled back and chest out. You should have a slight arc in your lower back. Make sure that you do not look up or down, but straight in front of you. Also be careful not to lean forward or backwards.
  3. When you approach the bar, make sure that your hands are at about the same distance apart as they are when you bench, roughly shoulder width maybe slightly wider. You want to make sure that the bar is placed on your traps evenly. Never let the weight become unstable.  You could risk injuring your rotator cuff.
  4. Be careful when you are backing up, only take a few steps at most and be sure to have a spotter to assist you. Most squatting injuries will occur while you are backing up so be extra cautious. Your feet should be shoulder width apart. Your toes should be pointing out about forty-five degrees.
  5. As you descend, take a deep breath and lower yourself down as if you were to sit on a chair. Always keep your knee in line with your feet and never in front of your toes. Also make sure to never bow your knee during any part of the lift. Lower yourself until you are slightly lower than parallel. This is critical because if you only go parallel you are putting unnecessary stress on your knee, but if you go slightly lower then you are building your knee muscles. Practice with no weight and watch yourself or have someone correct your form.
  6. As soon as you get to the bottom immediately begin rising. Do not relax. It should be one fluid motion and be very smooth. Once you get to the top, take a deep breath and do it again.
  7. How many should you do? It really doesn’t matter; you can do 3×12, 3×6, 1×20 exc. Just do according to how you feel and make sure that you are pushing yourself.

Sorry it took a while for me to talk about squats, but that is, in my opinion, the best exercise not only for your legs but your knees as well. You can handle a tremendous amount of weight and as long as you are performing it with proper form, you can do it safely. This single exercise uses around 90% of your body’s total muscles. You can imagine what positive effects that has on muscle growth and physical health. I just want to make sure you know how to do it correctly.

Knee MuscleThe next knee exercise that you can do is leg extensions. These are great for building your quadriceps and bringing that “teardrop” look to your legs. Your quadriceps are important in the health of your knee because you can put the stress on your muscles rather than your joints when lifting. Leg extensions are performed pretty simple with a machine. Just sit down, put your chins under the bar and extend your legs until they are straight out. Avoid going lower than a right angle when you lower the weight and also be sure to never jerk the weight.

Beyond just strengthening your quadriceps, you should also strengthen your hip flexors, hip adductor and hip abductors. These will help your knee because they provide strength and stability to the knee. To build these muscles, you can perform simple lying down straight leg raises. Perform a few sets of 20 or even hold a static hold for about a minute. This exercise will also help your abs out too. For the other muscles, you could use those hip machines in the gym or lie on your side and lift your leg facing the ceiling up to work your abductor. To work your hip abductor simply squeeze a pillow between your legs and hold it for about 20-30 seconds for a few sets.

Leg StretchesThere are a few other measures that you should take for optimum knee health and strength. Make sure that you wear shoes that will support and help control movement of your feet. While you are looking for good shoes, look for ones that help build arch support as well. Cole Haan has some good ones. Also be sure to stretch your legs whenever possible. Doing toe touches and quad stretches will be helpful for your knee. Another great tip is to never lock your legs when standing or squatting. Practice standing with a slight bend in your legs. I remember one time when I was in JROTC we had a kid pass out in attention because he locked his legs and I will never forget it. Beyond not passing out, having a natural bend will take stress off of your joints.

Well there you go, you now know how to take care of your knee and keep it healthy. You have a list of knee exercises to strengthen your muscles, and you know more about your knee than you did before. Congratulations; now don’t be foolish by not putting any of the things that I have mentioned into action. Enjoy your healthy knee.

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