How to take care of your knees!
The knee - If human bodies were products made in a factory, then most of us would probably have product recalls due to a manufacturing error on our knees. Knee problems are very common and the odds are great that you know of someone who has had a previous knee-injury or surgery or perhaps you, yourself have some kind of a knee problem.
While many people suffer from knee injuries, there are ways to strengthen them to ensure that you prevent any of these injuries in the future.
Why should I prep my knees?
A physiotherapist and strength and conditioning expert named Nicole Lombardo explain that the most common issue she comes across when people start to walk regularly as an exercise is an injury called patellofemoral pain syndrome. This is when you start to develop pain under or around the patella (knee cap).
There can be many causes of patella-femoral pain syndrome but one
common cause is that the kneecap itself comes out of alignment and rubs up against the surrounding cartilage and tendons or the femur. This often occurs due to weak and tight surrounding muscles.
How can I prep my knees?
Bodyweight squats are a great way to strengthen the muscles around your knees that will help them to get stronger. We all know that squats are what good buts or made of, but many forget that it also strengthens your quads greatly and when your quads are strong, your knees will be strong too. Place your feet shoulder-width apart comfortably. Drop down with your buttocks as if you are sitting on an imaginary chair. Hold for one second, and slowly come back up again to your original position. One thing to remember is that you should focus on going as low as possible without any pain. When you do squats, also make sure that your knees don't go over your feet to avoid knee injury. For the perfect squat, click here to see our “how-to” video.
While this exercise is considered to be a "low-intensity" workout, it is great for maintaining knee alignment. This form of exercise also strengthens the quadriceps muscles. Place one foot onto an aerobic step (or a step an the bottom of a staircase), keeping your knee bent. Slowly push through that foot until your leg is straight lifting the other foot off the floor. Slowly and with control lower back down to the starting position. Repeat this about 15 times for each leg.
To see how to properly do a step-up, click here.
Jill Miller, the co-founder of "Walking well" explains that your knee joints have a space that is made specifically for your knee-cap. When your muscles get weak the knee-cap moves out of this space and digs into the muscle tissue underneath which is what causes the pain when you use your knees. Straight leg lifts will pull the knee-cap back towards its designated "space" again.
To do straight leg lifts, lie on your back with one leg straight and flat on the floor and the other knee bent. Make sure that your pelvis is in a neutral position. Your pubic bone and hips should be level with the floor and not tilted toward your head or toes. Make sure that your straight leg has it's knee completely centered, not veering left or right. Then, lift your straight leg to the height of your bent knee, ensuring your hips are still level with the floor. If you are executing this exercise correctly, you will feel your quads working. Make sure you do this movement slowly, keeping in mind your centered hips and knees. Repeat until fatigued and switch to the other side.
Swimming is considered to be one of the best exercises for lungs and cardiovascular health but in addition to that, it has no strain on your knees and can actually help strengthen the muscles around your knees. In swimming, you continuously make use of your legs with kicking motion. Over time, you will find that your legs are stronger and can help your swimming endurance greatly. As your quads and thighs do most of the work, those muscles get stronger around your knees which will inevitably protect the joints and bones to prevent injury.
Mental health and healthy diets are the things that modern-day society focuses on the most, and rightfully so. How we look and how we feel on the outside seems to have become a major priority for most people but we forget one crucial thing - Taking care of our overall health means taking care of what is underneath as well. Your skeleton and bones are just as vital as the rest and serves to help you perform day-to-day activities. Take care of your joints and bones, don't put too much strain on them and most importantly - listen to your body.
If you struggle with bad knees, tell your trainer at Fitness Fables about it for the best advise, best guidelines for future exercises and help along your journey of getting stronger.