Building Your Arsenal: 5 Exercises for Bulletproof Knees
Let’s face it—injuries suck! There’s nothing worse than being limited to the things you can and can’t do by your own body. It’s frustrating and straight-up annoying! But sometimes it seems like there’s no way to avoid them—as if certain injuries, aches, and pains are bound to happen at one point or another. As humans, and as athletes, we generally accept that knee pain is one of those things that everyone else experiences and, as a result, so will we. Though, wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way significantly decrease your chances of a knee injury? Well, lucky for you, the routine in this blog will start you off nicely with the best knee prehab around!
While you may not be able to avoid all traumatic injuries completely, you can certainly decrease your chances of a knee injury and reduce the amount of damage done by preparing them for the moment when they will be put to the test. Conditioning your knees to handle one of these situations before it happens can save you months of recovery and rehab. Strengthening the muscles that surround your knees, as well as the connective tissue that holds them together, can significantly decrease your chances of traumatic injury in the future as well as help to improve the current health of your knees. These exercises will make you stronger, decrease pain, and prepare you for the challenges of your active lifestyle.
Knee pain is NOT inevitable! You can strengthen the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the knees, significantly decrease your injury risk, and improve your knee health. Prepare your knees for the unexpected twists and turns of life using one of many exercises used by GymnasticBodies—you’ll be happy that you did!
The front of your knees get used and abused every day as you go through your normal routine. Increasing the strength of the front of your knee is a key part of joint prehab. Slowly training these tendons to handle increased pressure and tension will make handling everyday tasks, like walking or climbing up a flight of stairs, easy and effortless. It will also prepare your body to handle any unexpected stress placed on it. Give these Forward Knee Presses a try—Here’s how!
- Start by placing one foot in front of the other with your front leg bent to about 45 degrees.
- Keeping your toes pointing forward, begin to press your knee directly forward.
- Press your knee past your foot until you feel a nice stretch just below the kneecap, then return to your starting position.
- Do 2 sets of 7-10 reps on each leg.
It is important to start off slowly as your body adjusts to this new exercise. At first, only apply a small amount of pressure through the front of the knee. As you practice this exercise on a regular basis, slowly increase the amount of pressure you apply during your sets by pressing your knee further forward.
Strengthening the side of your knee is another essential part of decreasing your risk of injury and improving the overall health of your knees. Preparing the inside and outside of your knee will get your body ready to handle any sideways forces that are thrown at it. Slowly conditioning your joints to handle more sideways pressure is just as important as increasing your strength in the front of your knee. First, try Inside Knee Wobbles to strengthen the inside of your knee!
- Stand with your feet placed shoulder width apart, toes forward, and knees slightly bent.
- Press one knee inwards until you feel a small amount of pressure through the inside of your knee, then return to your starting position.
- Repeat this movement on the other leg.
- Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps (5 reps on each leg) remembering to switch legs on each rep.
After spending some time focusing on the inside of your knees, don’t forget to spend some time strengthening the tissue on the outside of your knee as well. Give Outside Knee Wobbles a shot!
- Stand with your feet together, then, placing your hands on your knees, bend your legs to a 45-degree angle.
- Keeping your knees together, slowly press your knees to one side until you feel a small amount of pressure through the outside of your knee.
- Repeat the same movement in the other direction.
- Just as you did with the Inside variation, do 2-3 sets of 10 reps (5 reps on each side) remembering to switch directions on each rep.
At first, you might not be able to move your knees very far before you feel a stretch. Don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice! If you find that one leg is able to move further than the other, only go as far as your weaker side can handle. Working to get rid of your body’s natural imbalances will also help you to avoid injury.
Improving torsion strength is a part of knee prep that is often overlooked. Preparing the tissue deep inside your knee to handle twisting motion is just as essential as strengthening the connective tissue that encases your knees in the front and on the sides. Targeting tissue deep inside of your knee will also help you to feel relief during day-to-day tasks. Knee Twisters are a great tool to help you get ahead of the game. They’re easy!
- Start in the same position as Outside Knee Wobbles by standing with your feet together. Placing your hands on your knees, bend your legs to a 45-degree angle.
- Keeping your knees together, twist your body by moving your butt out to one side. You should feel a small amount of pressure deep inside your knees.
- Then, twist your body to the other side making sure that your knees stay together.
- Do 2-3 sets of 10 reps (5 twists in each direction) remembering to alternate sides.
Only do small twists at first while your knees get used to this new exercise. This might be the first time you have ever done any joint therapy that targets the inside of your knee, so don’t get frustrated if improving the range of your twist takes time. Your knee strength will improve little by little as you work on this exercise.
Now that you’ve spent time strengthening your knees in all directions, it’s time to put it all together into one fluid movement that will get you ready for the real world! Most knee injuries, or knee pain, occur when a combination of forces act on your legs in different directions. Knee Swings will help you combine forward, internal, external, and torsion strength into one exercise. Get Started!
- Again, stand with your feet together, then place your hands on your knees and bend your legs to a 45-degree angle.
- Keeping your knees together, press them out to one side as if you were doing Outside Knee Wobbles.
- Then, swing your knees forward and around in an arching motion until you reach the Outside Knee Wobble position on the other side.
- Do 2-3 sets of 10 swings (5 swings in each direction).
It’s okay to start off with small swings while your body adapts to this new movement. As you feel more comfortable, go ahead and increase the size of your swings. Bending your knees more as your swing from side to side is a great way to increase the stretch in all directions.
Spending time doing these exercises will help you to avoid injury and improve your joint health. There’s no need to feel imprisoned by the limitations of your own body when you can do simple exercises to counteract the daily wear and tear of your active lifestyle. These exercises are a great start to help you improve the health of your knees. You can find even more knee-strengthening exercises, as well as other joint prep exercises in the GymnasticBodies courses. Go ahead—get your body ready for whatever challenges life throws at it!