If you’ve suffered a knee injury, you know just how debilitating that situation can be. It can prevent you from doing just about anything that involves getting out of bed and going outside. What’s worse, training upper body also becomes extremely difficult because even making your way through the gym from exercise to exercise requires you to put pressure on your knee. All injuries suck, but a knee injury is in its own league of suckiness.
INCLUDE THESE THREE EXERCISES INTO YOUR WEEKLY ROUTINE TO PROTECT YOUR KNEES AND KEEP YOU OFF THE SIDELINES
KEEPING KNEE INJURIES AT BAY
If you haven’t suffered a knee injury, I’m certain we both agree it’s something you don’t want to experience. Whether you have or haven’t had this problem, there are ways to prevent new injuries from happening and old injuries from reoccurring.
This can be done by incorporating specific exercises designed to strengthen the muscles around the knee, keeping it safeguarded as much as possible from injury.
SINGLE LEG HIP THRUST
Lay on your back and bend one leg keeping one foot flat on the ground and the other straight. Press up on the bent leg, and elevate your hips upwards while keeping your shoulder blades firmly on the floor. Your other leg should remain straight throughout the entire movement and your back should come off the floor.
Don’t hyperextend your spine, the top of the movement should finish with your hips and shoulders at exactly 180 degrees. This exercise will help to strengthen your glutes and hamstring muscles, which, in turn, will offer support and take pressure off your knee ligaments. Aim for three sets and 15 repetitions on each leg.
SEATED LEG EXTENSIONS
These exercises have found their way into just about every person’s leg routine of all ages, sizes and sexes. Apart from being a great quad builder, seated leg extensions offer another huge benefit and that is to protect the knee ligaments by strengthening the quad muscles, especially in the teardrop muscle that hovers just above your knee cap.
Weak quadriceps force your knees to take more of the impact of your body’s movement. This exercise directly targets the quadriceps muscle without risking any lower back impact, so if you are suffering from lower back pain, this is an excellent exercise to safeguard your knees without worsening any back problems you may have.
When executed properly, squats, in general, are an excellent way to strengthen your overall leg as well as your knees. The takeaway term here is “executed properly”; it’s important to know that the right form will do wonders for leg development and knee protection. But the wrong form will put you at more risk for injury.
The reason why I suggest you start with bodyweight squats is that, by doing so, 90% of the tension stays solely on the legs. Adding weight before improving your form puts more stress on your joints and defeats the entire purpose of the exercise. Place your legs a little bit wider than shoulder width and sink your glutes backwards and downwards.
Make sure to keep your back straight and core activated at all times. Keep the weight on your heels and ensure that your knees do not come over your toes. The depth of the squat is a subject of debate and really depends on your flexibility and range of motion.
Generally speaking, a range of motion of 90 degrees should be enough to effectively target your glutes quads and hamstrings. However, it is not a bad idea to focus on hip flexibility, hamstring flexibility and quad flexibility, to allow you get more comfortable with a deeper range of motion.
Form is always extremely important. Once you perfect your form, you can drive your body comfortably throughout the entire movement, begin to add moderate weight and increase weight according to your strength gains.