Keeping the Bees Knees
Taking your knees for granted is one of the most liberating things you can do! I've done it, we've all done it. There is something about seeing how much we can throw at our knees until they bow into submission that is very enjoyable. Whether that's through long hikes to get that perfect picture you can show all your friends, drawn out home renovations, wearing the same shoes for 3 years or going all out playing sports year round. I am not saying to stop any of those things (except the sneaker part), because life is about doing the things we love. And if that means suffering for a few days after, eh, whatever... I'm with you!
However, if you take care of your knees, you should be able to do all those things you enjoy and not deal with pain afterwards! A few simple measures taken and you can do them long into old age. Let's take a look at 3 movements that can help with knee health.
1.) Dynamic Warm-Up
If you have noticed that your knee pain typically comes on with exercise, a solid Dynamic Warm up may prevent the onset of pain. Our muscles, ligaments and tendons may get very stiff during times of inactivity, then once we begin exercise they have to stretch all the way out again.
A Dynamic Warm Up is a way of accomplishing this before we begin activity. It will also lubricate our joints and prevent potential injuries. Simple warmups would be swinging your leg forward and back, effectively stretching the knees and hips, while increasing blood flow to the area. Complete 3x10 to each leg. (You might want to hold on to something with one arm, it really challenges your balance).
2.) Quadriceps Strengthening
The quadriceps muscle is the one on top of your thigh that attaches into your kneecap. This muscle is responsible for extending (making straight) your knee. It is also responsible for slowly controlling the bend of your knee when you are squatting or going down stairs. This muscle is directly responsible for knee health and function. When the quadriceps are weak, they cannot properly stabilize the knee, therefore the knee will experience more abnormal movements during activity. Abnormal movements cause pain and inflammation.
Try this simple quadriceps strengthening exercise; it’s called a ‘Quad Set’. Place a towel under the knee and push down into it, tightening your quadriceps. Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 10x, and complete 2-3 sets total. Complete 1-2x per day.
3.) Hip Strengthening
The hip muscles are key players in the function of all the muscles and joints above them and below them. They are the foundation for which the spine is built on and they are the Puppet Master controlling the knees and ankles. If you can keep your hips strong, your knees will move in proper alignment. Proper alignment means no adverse pressure causing wearing, tearing or pain.
There are many exercises to choose from, but here is a good one to start that hits a whole bunch of the important hip muscles. It’s called ‘Bridging’, very basic but very effective. Raise your hips as far as you can in a pain-free range and return them to the starting position. Complete 3 sets of 10, once per day.
Well there it is, 3 movements that will keep your knees healthier through the battles you engage them in. Like anything else, consistency is the key. Any good knee prehab or rehab must be done regularly a minimum of 2-3x week.
For more tips on how to prevent and relieve Knee Pain, try this FREE guide:
If you have further questions regarding this blog post, or other tips that can help you to relieve Knee Pain, contact Skyline Physical Therapy!