If you are dealing with chronic knee pain, you are not alone. Nearly 20 percent of U.S. adults deal with some kind of knee pain according to The American Academy of Pain Medicine. So, what can be done to relieve your knee pain and prevent future issues? Instead of rest, the National Institutes of Health suggest moderate exercise. Exercise will reduce joint pain and stiffness, increase flexibility, muscle strength, and endurance. It can also help with weight reduction which improves overall health and well-being.
When formulating a workout, you want to target the knees two main muscles support groups, the hamstrings, and quadriceps. The hamstrings are muscles on the back of your thigh and they run from the hip to just below the knee. This is the muscle that works to bend the knee. The quadriceps are four muscles in the front of the thigh that run from the hip to the knee. This muscle works to straighten the knee from a bent position.
For the best result, use a combination of proper stretching and strengthening exercises, like the ones below, to prevent and reduce knee pain or work with your personal trainer who specializes in corrective exercises.
Proper stretching is important to get the blood flowing in and around your knee. It will also reduce stiffness and increase your range of motion.
Standing Calf Stretch:
Tight calves can cause your knees to move inward and cause pain. To perform a standing calf stretch, stand on the edge of a step or curb and place your left foot on the ground, keeping the ball of your right foot on the step. Allow the right heel to drop below the step and hold the stretch for 30 seconds, then repeat on the opposite side.
Hip Flexor/Quad Stretch:
Like the standing hip flexor stretch where you bend your knee to your glute, this exercise effectively stretches even if bending your knee is difficult. This exercise can be done laying down or standing depending on your preference.
To stretch lying down, loop a belt, towel, or yoga strap around your right foot and lay on your stomach. Grab either side of your tool with each hand and gently pull the strap so your heel moves toward your butt. You should feel a stretch in your hip flexor and quadriceps, hold this for 30 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
It is important to not only stretch your knees but to also strengthen them so you can prevent injury in the future. While exercising, keep in mind that you do not want to lock out your legs. Locking your knee joint transfers all of the weight from the muscle to the joint. The result is un-needed stress on the knee that can lead to injury. The following exercises will target weak areas of your knees safely, but remember to not add too much weight. If you have any questions about these, contact your RED Fitness personal trainer for advice and training techniques.
Partial Leg Extensions:
Sit upright on any bench. Raise one leg so that it is parallel to the floor. Instead of flexing your leg to a full 90 degrees like a normal leg extension, only flex your leg halfway down. Make sure to keep your toes pointed in the air, which will help activate the muscles surrounding the knee. When extending your leg back to the top, hold and flex your quadriceps for 2 seconds then repeat. Perform 15-20 reps on each leg for three to four sets. As a progression, apply adjustable ankle weights.
Using an aerobic step bench or box, step up onto the step with your right foot. Tap your left foot on the top of the step, and then step down. Do 10-15 of these on your right leg, then switch to your left and repeat. A more advanced variant includes holding dumbbells in both hands while performing the step-ups.
It is always vital to have cardio in your workout routine, and this is a great way to warm up your body after stretching. A safe alternative to running would be using an elliptical trainer or stationary bike. When on the elliptical, make sure to eliminate any incline to lessen the stress on your knees. Other cardio options include walking or swimming.
Having a personal trainer that specializes in corrective exercises will help you safely reach your fitness goals and strengthen weak or problem areas. If you don’t suffer from knee pain—these tips should help you prevent any future problems. If you have an existing knee injury, these tips can help alleviate the pain and allow you to continue training. For more information or to schedule a free assessment with a certified personal trainer who specializes in corrective exercises, call Brain Kranz at (562) 237-2907.