Weak Knees? Put the Pep Back in Your Step
Your knees are one of your body’s most important mechanical pieces, but too often they are neglected during training and overused in daily life. Ever since you were a kid in gym class, you have been told that it is important to eat right and exercise, but were you told that it’s equally as important to strengthen your joints?
Joint preparation is an essential part of maintaining your body’s long-term health. In a typical workout, you most likely spend the majority of your time focusing on building muscle and not enough time strengthening the connective tissue that holds your body together. This imbalance in tissue strength is the reason knee injuries are among the most common ailments of adulthood. A knee injury will occur because it is forced to move off of that ‘normal’ (forward and backward) plane of motion to a position where it is not as strong and stable.
When it comes down to it, preventing an injury is always easier than healing one. Strengthening your knees in a normal plane of motion as well as outside of the normal plane will help prepare them for the real world. Whether you are strengthening weak knees for the adventures ahead, or trying to prevent an injury on the field, these exercises will help to bulletproof your joints and keep you active for years to come.
Start Joint Prep the Front of the Knee
Strengthening your knees in a normal plane of motion is an important part of preparing them for the vigor of life. When it comes to joint prep, it is important to start small. Minimizing strain and maximizing results is easy with the use of a resistance band that can be purchased at any sporting goods store.
Start by grabbing a hold of the band at both ends, then place the middle of the band underneath your feet. It is important to place your feet shoulder width apart with your toes pointing forward. Once you are in position, begin doing quarter squats by squatting down halfway to knee level and standing back up. As you go, you can easily adjust the tension of the band to find your preferred level of difficulty. This simple exercise will target the quadriceps tendon and patellar tendon which play key roles in straightening your knees.
Without even realizing it, you use and abuse these two tendons on a daily basis just by carrying out your normal routine. Keeping them healthy and in shape is as easy as doing 3 sets of 10-15 reps of this exercise a few times per week. As you feel your knees getting stronger, add a few ‘more reps while remembering to listen to your body and to stop or back off if it has had enough.
Now Let’s Work on the Side of the Knee
For most adults, the side of the knee is our weakness. Time after time this area seems to be the one that wavers under stress. Unlike the front of the knee, which you use every day, the side of your knee only gets used in that crucial moment when it’s time to suddenly change direction.
Getting your body ready for that swift sidestep is easier than you think and doesn’t require any equipment. Simply have a seat on the front of a chair or on the edge of a bench. Bring your feet as close to the chair or bench as you can while still giving yourself room to stand up. Roll your feet to the side so that the soles are touching. If you can’t touch the souls of your feet together, it’s okay. Just give it your best shot. As you roll your feet to the side, press your knees outward and toward the ground. From there, stand up, making sure to straighten your knees all the way, and sit back down. As you transition between the sitting and standing positions, press your knees out to the side gently. You should feel a nice, mild stretch starting from your knees and extending down the side of your lower leg into your ankles.
You might be saying to yourself, “this is NOT a normal position,” and you’re right, it isn’t. Sitting in this position might feel weird, but it will help restore the strength and agility you felt on the playground as a kid.
Start off small by doing 3 sets of 5-7 reps of this exercise a couple times per week. Just like with your other joint exercises, pay attention to how your body feels and adjust this number accordingly. Take your time getting used to this new movement before adding more reps.
Putting it all Together
Once you’ve gotten the ball rolling with the previous two exercises, it’s time to put it all together with knee circles. This exercise will help you to rejuvenate your lower half and safeguard your knees in all directions.
Start by standing with your feet together. Then, bend forward, place your hands on your knees, and move them in a 360-degree circle. Keeping your heels planted, try to make your circles as big and as smooth as possible. As you move your knees, you should feel them working in all directions. Again, take it easy at first by doing 3 sets of 5-7 circles in each direction a few times per week. As you improve, you can increase reps, or you can try to increase the size of your circles.
These simple exercises will help keep you safe from the unexpected twists and turns of daily life. They will help to rebuild damaged knees and strengthen the connective tissue that holds your body together. But taking care of your knees is only the first step in maintaining your body’s health. You can find other fun ways to create a sustainable and active body with the GymnasticBodies Online Courses.