The knee joints are a rather complicated network of ligaments and muscles and there is a lot that can go wrong with these at any point. At the same time they are also subject to a lot of wear and tear having to bear the brunt of a lot of pressure and impact when we run, walk, change direction or even just squat down. As such then it’s little wonder that it’s so common for us to experience knee complaints of various kinds and particularly as we reach older age.
Here then we will look at some ways that you can strengthen the knee joints, not only to help recover from those knee complaints, but also to help avoid them in the first place.
Using stretching and gentle exercises you can prevent all kinds of knee damage by keeping the tendons and ligaments as limber and flexible as possible so that they are not prone to tearing when you place them under sudden stress. There are a vast range of different stretches and moves you can use to this end, but the key is to move them through their usual range of motion without adding too much stress and weight. Incorporate a series of stretches and exercises for the knees in your warm ups and you will be much less likely to experience any knee pains. You should also consult with your physiotherapist if you have any specific complaints, and consider joining a class such as Pilates or yoga that focusses on stretches.
The next step up from these gentle stretches is to use cardiovascular exercise that involves the knees and this means things like cycle, running or swimming. If you are starting to find that your knee hurts when running then you might want to steer away from this and move more towards low impact forms of CV such as cycling or swimming. Often people who find themselves suffering from knee joint pain after running will make the mistake of completely stopping exercise, when actually they would do better to strengthen the joint and lubricate it by cycling or swimming.
There are a range of different leg exercises that you can use to build strength in your knees and by building strength in the supporting muscles you can help keep everything in line and prevent a tear or fracture. However in order to make this as effective as possible it is important that the exercise you do be compound meaning that you use as many different muscles in conjunction as possible. For instance then the squat – which is a highly compound movement – is far preferable to the leg press which is a resistance machine exercise. The reason for this is that when we do a squat freely and with no support we force ourselves to utilize all of the small supporting muscles in the knee and the rest of the leg (as well as the core) in order to balance ourselves and this is then what prevents our knee from becoming imbalanced when we are running, walking or partaking in sports. Of course if you have some sort of knee injury then squatting 150kg might be placing too much stress on it, so in these cases you should use very light dumbbells or just your own bodyweight.