It isn’t just the older generation who suffer with stiff, sore, or weak knees, it can happen to any of us! Unfortunately having a ‘dodgey knee’ is not that uncommon. So I thought we could look at some of the ways we can both strengthen and protect our knees.
Unfortunately some people (yes even young people!), can have medical conditions that affect their knees such as arthritis or an acquired injury. In these cases is it always best to check with your doctor about what is, or isn’t appropriate for you. For everyone else, here are some tips that will help you prevent, or manage knee complaints.
This one should be fairly obvious to most people… Wear the right footwear! Yes, your knees need soft support just as a mountain bike needs suspension. If you are a jogger, runner, or hiking enthusiast, it is important that you have the right type of support to help protect your knees.
Stretch it and move it! If you have a problem knee, then taking up a regular stretching routine, such as a gentle yoga class, will help stimulate blood flow to these areas and help maintain flexibility and a full range of movement. Warming down after a long jog/run/cycle/swim or leg focused workout will also help reduce swelling and discomfort in this area.
Work on your butt! Yes, you have your feminine derriere for a reason, and it’s not just to sit on! Having strong gluteal muscles supports external rotations of the hips, stabilizes via the IT band and helps control deceleration when reacting to the force of the ground (e.g. jumping, lunging, jogging etc.) These are all important when reducing the chances of damaging your knees with meniscal tears, ACL tears and/or patellofemoral pain.
Many of us have a slight asymmetry in our hip alignment. Perhaps we just have wider hips than others, or some people have an anterior pelvic tilt, whilst others have a pelvic drop. This usually means either the left or our right hip tilts higher than the other which is actually more common that you might think! For people who live with these complaints, no matter how minor, it can help to activate the problem side with single leg and balance focused exercises as well as working on strengthening the glutes… Please refer to point 3!
- Pick and choose your exercises. Favouring your knees by avoiding high impact exercises such as jogging might be necessary for you, depending on the strength and condition of your knees, however that doesn’t mean you have to neglect your legs altogether! Exercises such as swimming and cycling provide an excellent way of activating and exercising the knee joints without placing too much pressure on them.