Never had knee pain? Excellent. Let’s keep it that way. And while not all knee problems are preventable, you can prevent many issues and also improve knee function with strength and flexibility training.
With increased muscular strength and flexibility surrounding your knees, the better they bear their load. Muscles are shock absorbers; the stronger they are, the better they can offload the hips and knees and the better your joints will feel — no matter your age.
Lower extremity strength training includes anything that builds muscle around the hips and knees. Stationary biking is the easiest way to start and has the added benefit of aiding knee and hip mobility. Biking can be done several times per week on a stationary or recumbent bike; we (your St. Louis, Brentwood and Clayton, Mo personal trainers) recommend biking for 20 to 30 minutes per session and build up to 45 minutes.
Functional strength exercises are designed to strengthen multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Unlike a single muscle exercise such as a bicep curl, functional strength exercises like as a push-up, strengthen all of the muscles in a body area simultaneously. When you move normally, muscles work together, so it makes more sense to exercise them together as well.
Everyone’s knee has different limitations. These exercises build strength around the hips and knees but they might be too much for some individuals . As with any exercise, please check with a doctor if you have any concerns before starting a new workout. Here are a few functional strength exercises that are great for strengthening the muscles that support the knees:
How to Do a Bodyweight Split Squat
- Place your hands on your hips and take a step forward with your left leg, so your stance is staggered.
- Slowly lower your body as far as you can.
- When you’re as low as you can go, jump with enough force to propel both feet off the floor.
- Land with your right leg forward.
- Alternate back and forth for the allotted time.
How to Do the Single-Leg Hip Raise
- Put your left leg so it’s in line with your right thigh.
- Push your hips up, keeping your left leg elevated.
- Pause and slowly return to the starting position.
- Switch legs and repeat.
How to Do Single-Leg Toe Touches
- Stand on your right leg with your left leg slightly behind you, raised off the floor.
- Place your arms straight out to your sides at shoulder height.
- Bend your right leg at the knee and squat down to touch your left hand to the toe of your right foot, then come back up. …
- Repeat motion with your left leg.
Do these exercises as a circuit 3 times around for one minute each, taking a 15 second rest between each round. Make sure to warm up for 3 minutes before you start and stretch when you are done.
As sore knees stiffen, the muscles around the knees tighten as well. This soft tissue tightening often amplifies knee pain. A foam roller is a terrific, low-cost option that can be used at home to improve flexibility and reduce pain through a process known as myofascial release.
For foam roller exercises, go to my website www.mauriecofman.com, choose “Exercises” then scroll down to “Foam Roller Exercises” for a basic view of foam roller exercises.
For more information on knee safety, contact Maurie Cofman, CMES, CES, TBMM-CES, Personal Trainer, Certified Medical Exercise Specialist, Health Coach and Corrective Exercise Specialist in the St. Louis, Brentwood, and Clayton, MO area.