Does the thought of leg exercises make you weak in the knees? If you suffer from knee discomfort, finding the right fitness plan can be challenging. While many of us tend to shy away from aerobics once we experience joint aches and pains, you may be surprised to learn that the right fitness routine may be the best prescription for strengthening sore knees. Try implementing the following exercises into your workout for stronger, more stable knees.
Note: If you experience joint pain, consult your physician before exercising.
Squats are a functional exercise. This means a movement you would perform during your daily activities. Perfecting your form helps protect your body during common movements such as bending down to pick up your shoes. Incorporate partial squats to your routine to buff up your booty and quads.
Step 1. Stand with your feet hip width apart, resting your body weight in your heels.
Step 2. Hinge back at the hips, as if you are about to sit down in a chair.
Step 3. Lower your body until your hamstrings are at a 45-degree angle with the floor (if your thighs are parallel with the ground, you are too low). Repeat 12-15 times.
Lateral Band Walk
Healthy knees rely on healthy hips. The lateral band walk targets deep muscles within the hips and glutes, specifically the gluteus medius. This lateral muscle works to help stabilize the pelvis, and is responsible for the alignment and tracking of the knee during movement. Keeping these lateral muscle fibers strong and stable helps decrease the risks of knee injuries such as ACL tears.
Resistance Band Color Codes: Yellow = Easy; Green = Moderate; Blue = Heavy
Step 1. Position the band flat against your lower thigh, or slightly above the ankle.
Step 2. Keep your feet shoulder width apart to maintain pressure throughout the entire exercise.
Step 3. Hinge back at the hips to form a shallow bend, and take 10 steps to the left followed by 10 steps to the right. Perform 3 sets.
Exercises like the step up help to strengthen the muscles used in everyday activities, like walking up stairs. While this move seems basic, it is often performed improperly. Focus on your form, your standing distance from the step and the specific muscles being recruited for each move (the glutes). Doing so will help you achieve the results you desire, and protect your joints.
Step 1. Standing close to the platform, and plant your foot on the surface of the step or bench.
Step 2. Target the posterior part of your leg by driving your body weight through your heel with each step. Remember, your knee should be smoothly aligning above the ankle each time you step. Do not remove your foot from the platform between repetitions.
Step 3. Perform 3 sets of 15 repetitions on each side.
*Expert tip: There’s no need to pump your legs fast and furiously. You’re not a 90’s backup dancer. Prevent wobbling (which can lead to injury) by taking your time with each step.
If you want stronger knees, you can’t be afraid to do a little legwork.
To learn more about personal training options and Ashley's new virtual workout program, which can be done from the comfort of your home, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.
Read more Sports Doc for Sports Medicine and Fitness.