Resiliency Series: Bulletproof your Knees

Welcome back for the resiliency series, KNEE EDITION!

Over the last year, we have been covering the most common areas of the body where people have their aches and pains. Each week will cover a specific area that we suggest people work on in order to resist injury. 

This will NOT serve as a way to treat an injury or direct medical advice, but it will be a resource that will house the most up-to-date information on how to make yourself stronger and and more… RESILIENT! We ALWAYS suggest you seek medical attention if you feel you need more help.

Let’s talk about our knees. Chances are, most of you reading this post have had some type of knee pain at some point if you are active. We use our knees all of the time, including walking, climbing stairs, running, squatting, lunging, etc.  Knee pain can have multiple causes, but I’m here to talk about nontraumatic knee pain. It’s often referred to under one umbrella as “patellofemoral pain.” This can refer to a few different things, but all of them refer to a sensitivity of the structure surrounding your knee cap. In my experience, these types of overuse injuries are 100% treatable.

I am going to take you through some of our favorite exercises and ways to prescribe exercises to help strengthen and protect against injuries in this area.

One thing to remember, and this is a common theme in these types of posts, injuries can NOT be 100% prevented by any program, we can only reduce our risk. The best way to reduce our risk is to get stronger!

The key to improving the durability of our tendons is to work on heavy, slow resistance training. This means exercise that uses weight, is performed slowly and is challenging enough to make changes in the actual structures within. What we know from research, which is consistently proven time and time again, that exercises have to be challenging enough to make changes within. We don’t have to pose a great challenge with every single exercise we do, but for the ones that we are hoping to make measurable gains with, we must challenge ourselves regularly.

Now, onto the good stuff. Here are a few of our fave exercises to perform to help improve knee durability. It is suggested that you begin at a level that you think will be challenging enough, but not so hard that you are sore for days, but sometimes it takes a few sessions to figure out the difficulty level.

We suggest that each of these exercises be performed 3-4 weekly to make measurable changes. We also suggest repetition ranges of 8-10 for 3, challenging sets.

Basic air squat

One medical myth is that you should not let your knees go past your toes when you squat. PLEASE let your knees go over your toes during a squat. You are missing out on the added benefits of performing a full depth squat- increased muscle tone in your quadriceps, in addition to your inner thigh and gluteal muscles!  When you are injured, a squat can seem like an impossible task, so we may work with modifying this movement based on your sensitivity.

Step down

Seems easy, right? You likely do this every day if you have to walk up and down stairs to get where you are going. You can make this exercise harder by increasing the time over tension (think holding for 20 sec, or slowing down the movement to a snail’s pace) or adding weight!

Hamstring curls

I’ve mostly listed quad-dominant exercises here, as your quad is the muscle that directly passes through your knee cap. However, it is important to maintain balance with strength training, so I had to include a great posterior chain exercise as well. Maintaining strong hamstrings is also an important part of injury prevention to maintain a good quad:hamstring strength ratio.

Lunges

Lunges are more of a unilateral exercise, which is great for targeting differences in strength from you left to your right side. You can perform lunges in both the sagittal plane (front and back) and in the frontal plane (left and right) as pictured above.

Box Jump

Great for improving power and speed in your quadriceps! This explosive motion is great for improving performance.

This concludes our Knee edition of the Resiliency series. If you learned something, give us a shout! If you know someone who would learn something, pass it along with a share!

Thank you for reading and stay tuned for future posts…..

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