In January we focused on the FOOT and ANKLE. In February we learned the importance of strengthening and stretching the muscles of your CALVES and SHINS. This month we will address the KNEE.
We don't actually strengthen the knee joint. However, to prevent chronic pain and injuries, we DO need to strengthen the muscles that surround it. Therefore, exercises that strengthen the GLUTES, QUADS, and HAMSTRINGS are important. The goal is to ease pressure on the knees by increasing stability around the joint and thus reduce injury.
Here are three exercises that assist in strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee joint:
1.DUMBBELL STEP-UPS w/KNEE DRIVE (this works glutes, quads, and hamstrings): You may begin this exercise without weights first to get used to stepping up and down from a box or bench that is approximately 18" off the floor. If you need more modification, use a smaller step. Begin with feet parallel on the floor. Place Left Foot up on the bench. Drive through the heel of that foot into the bench and drive your Right knee up to 90 degrees and hold for 1-2" and then slowly lower that leg back to the floor. Return Left foot to the floor, feet back to parallel. You may repeat 8- 10 times on the same foot or alternate feet for 8-10x each leg. The number of sets and reps is up to you depending on your level of readiness for this exercise.
2.SPLIT SQUATS WITH DUMBBELSS (hamstrings, quads, glutes, hip flexors) Hold dumbbells in both hands. Place one foot in front and one foot in back. Bend both knees, dropping back knee towards the floor. Drive through the front heel and return to the starting position. You may repeat on the same side for "X" reps or alternate legs. Again reps and sets are up to you as is the weight you choose. If you're new, choose no weights to start.
3.LATERAL LUNGE W/DUMBBELLS Similar to the exercise above, hold a dumbbell in each hand (or no weight to start if this is new to you). Start standing with legs slightly wider than shoulder width apart and toes facing forward. Shift your body weight to one leg bending the knee until it reaches a 90-degree angle and the other leg is straight. Your glutes are pressing back behind you. Return to the center and change sides.
There are many more exercises you can do to achieve the same thing and have some variety to your workout. The above are just a few examples to get yourself started. If you are experiencing knee pain and not sure what is going on....
* As always do your due diligence and seek medical advice*