If it’s any consolation, you’re probably not alone if you are suffering with a knee injury. When you think about knees being one of the most used, and abused, joints in our body, you have to wonder how they last as long as they do? But even so, knees are vital as is exercise. In fact, exercise is vital to keeping them mobile and healthy.
Whether you are exercising your way to recovery from surgery or exercising on through an injury, these simple workouts will aide your knee. They will speed recovery time, increase the strength of all surrounding muscles which will help protect it from future injuries. So, let’s see how to get started and which exercises provide the best results for an injured knee.
Always Warmup First
Warming up cold muscles prior to any exercise is the key to injury prevention. You never need to go straight from tight and cold muscles and joints to stress from anything without increasing blood circulation and “advising” them of the upcoming stress.
Warm-ups of any kind will help lessen the current damage, so you can’t afford to miss this step. This warm up period could be anything from simply standing in place and lifting your leg from the knee a number of times, to more advanced stretching routines.
Straight Leg Raises
Straight leg raises are about as simple as it gets, but the best place to start. The first step is to lay flat on your back. If you like you can put your head on a pillow, or even prop up on your elbows.
Once in position and comfortable, get one foot flat on the floor with your knee bent. Now straighten the other and lift your foot from the floor with your toes pointed to the ceiling. Tighten up your stomach muscles and the muscles on top of the thigh as you lift.
Do 10 repetitions with each leg, and do several sets with each leg.
For this exercise, I use a dining room chair. Just stand behind any chair that you can put your hands on for balance while standing straight up.
Spread your feet apart to help maintain your balance and bend one knee. Your calf and foot is now behind you as you lift your foot up and towards your butt. Just lift it as high as you can and hold it there for a few seconds and let it back to the floor slowly and controlled.
Do 15 repetitions with the first leg and then the other. You can actually do the same exercise lying down, which comes in handy since you’re already on the floor.
Prone Straight Leg
After the hamstring curls, roll over onto your stomach with legs straight out behind you. Lift one leg to the sky as you engage and tighten your butt and hamstring muscles.
When you have that leg lifted as high as possible, without straining yourself, hold it there for about 5 seconds before slowly lowering it. Do this 5 times with each leg and remember that the key is control.
Control both the lifting and lowering of your legs and go slow without allowing them to drop to the floor uncontrollably.
Side Leg Raises
The last exercise to do with an injured knee is to raise your leg from lying on your side. So, from the last move, now lie on your side. It’s best to bend the leg on the bottom from the knee slightly.
Now, while on your side, lift the top leg as high as you can. Keep the leg straight and your foot ridgid and pointed. Don’t let your foot hang limp as you raise and lower it to a 45° angle.
Hold your leg at the 45° angle for about 5 seconds and then slowly bring it back to the floor. Repeat the move 5 times for each leg.
How To Prevent Knee Injuries
Few people ever consider their knees — prior to an injury or pain of some kind. But, the truth is that these joints are delicate and because they are subject to wear and tear an ounce of prevention will go a long way. Here are 7 tips that will help protect your knees and prevent injuries before they happen.
Stairs and even steps into homes put a terrific amount of stress on your kneecaps under all circumstances. But, bounding up and down stairs with no thought of these joints should be avoided unless your legs are already in great shape. It’s always best to think of your body and joints as you walk up and down stairs slowly and with intent. If there are rails, hold on to one to help prevent unnecessary twisting of the joints.
2. Knee Sleeves
Exercise and sports events that stress your knees are particularly dangerous to their best health. Knee sleeves add support to the joint and kneecap by supplying just the right amount of pressure and compression to the joints and supporting muscles. Knee sleeves help protect your knees from injury along with adding vital support when they are already injured. Choose a premium sleeve that’s breathable and washable for best results.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
It’s common knowledge that excess weight puts too much strain on your heart and body, but not so common to think about what it does to your knees. Just adding a few extra pounds overloads these joints even in the most routine activities. Being overweight takes a serious toll on the cartilage in knees and causes premature arthritis. The good news, however, is that you can lose weight and take the strain off these joints.
4. Think About Where You Walk
Knees are always turning, twisting, bending, and rolling with each step. To protect them from harm, try to stay on the smoothest surfaces possible when walking for exercise. Of course, you can’t always walk on completely smooth and level surfaces, but when you do it’s important to pay attention to where you put your feet. This can prevent unnecessary twisting and straining the knees.
5. Doing Squats and Lunges
If you aren’t working out with weights, this may be meaningless to you. However, if you are doing squats and lunges with heavy weight, knee sleeves for squatting are your best friends. The best option with this exercise routine is to not bend your knees more than 90 degrees. Making sure your knee stays directly over your foot when doing lunges can help save them for another day.
6. Keep Inner Thighs Strong
Hardly anyone considers it, but your inner thigh muscles are vital for absorbing the shock of walking or running. They actually prevent the impact of your feet striking the ground from getting to your knees. Finding exercises that strengthen these muscles and doing them regularly can prevent injury.
7. Shoes Are Critical To Knee Health
Never take your shoes lightly. All the joints from your toes to your neck are depending the cushioning to absorb the shock and twisting motion of walking or running. Hard sole and poorly made shoes can’t provide the protection you need. Instead, choose high-quality shoes that provide plenty of support for your arches. Replace them before they are completely worn out and unserviceable and look for good cushioning.
There, you have it. Do the simple exercises above with a knee injury or for prevention. Each of them increases muscle mass and tone in your legs which is important for evenly distributing body weight and absorbing stress and stain. Start out slow and work your way back to full mobility.