Did our Cockney Rhyming Slang title get you giddy that biscuits and cheese could help protect your knees? Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case, however, looking after you knees is so important and normally we don’t think about it until it’s too late! Take a look at some simple stretches and exercises you can do to protect your knees below:
How to Look After Your knees
Do you like to run but you’re worried about your knees? Or maybe you’re just conscious that you want to look after your knee strength so that they will keep looking after you?
To keep your knees healthy, you need to work many different parts of your body such as your core, lower back, hip flexors, thighs, lower legs and feet. If one part is weak, it can affect the rest. Your quads need to be strong in order to stabilise your knees and a strong core, lower back and hips can prevent your hips dropping and your knees turning inwards. Base level exercise such as moving, standing and walking are important for keeping the joints mobile.
Prevention is better than cure and these knee strengthening exercises are vital for preventing or reducing the risk of injury.
Here are the best knee stretches and exercises to keep your knees healthy, strong and pain free. To get the best benefits these should be done regularly, at least 2 – 3 times a week. Regularity and consistency are important for success.
These can be done within your warm-up or your stretch at the end of your workout.
- Straight Leg Hold – Sit on a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise one leg until it is parallel with the floor and hold for 10-15 seconds. Repeat with the other leg. Do three sets of 10 reps (One rep is both legs). This can be done using ankle weights once you start to build up strength.
- Straight Leg Raises – Sit on a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Slowly raise one leg until it is parallel with the floor. Contract your thigh muscle and slowly raise the leg up and down for 10 reps, without touching the floor. Repeat with the other leg. Do three sets of 10 reps (One rep is both legs). These can be done with ankle weights once you start to build up strength.
- Knee Bends – Stand straight against a wall, about a foot away with your back against a wall and your toes pointing slightly outwards. Slowly slide down the wall by bending your knees. Keep your knees in the same direction as your feet and make sure that they don’t go past your toes. Squeeze your glutes and thigh muscles to push yourself back up. Do three sets of 10 reps.
- Hamstring Stretch – Sit on the edge of a chair with one leg straight in front of you with your heel on the floor and the other leg bent. Bend forwards from the hips, keeping your back straight, over your straight leg and contract the muscles in your thigh until you feel the stretch in your hamstring. Do three sets of 10 reps.
- Squat – Stand with feet shoulder width apart (the distance may vary from person to person so find a position that feels comfortable to you). Keeping your back straight and your head and shoulders up, slowly lower yourself into a squat by bending your knees, making sure that your knees do not go in front of your toes. Slowly return to standing and complete 10 reps. Do three sets.
- Single Leg Squat – Stand with feet shoulder width apart and toes pointing forwards. Raise one foot off the floor. Slowly lower yourself into a squat position by bending your knee. Make sure that your knees do not go in front of your toes. Slowly push back up until your leg is straight. Repeat 5 times on each leg. Do three sets. This can also be done with the toes turned out – make sure that as you bend your leg, your knee points in the same direction as your toes.
- Jump Squat – Stand with feet shoulder width apart and your arms out in front of you. Lower into a squat by bending your knees, making sure that your knees do not go in front of your toes, and then push up with force into a jump. Keep the movement controlled as you finish the jump. Do three sets of 10 reps.
- Mountain Climbers – Start in a straight arm plank position and bring each knee in towards the chest in turn. Do these at a fast pace, keeping good technique. Do three sets of 10 reps (one rep is both legs).
- Lunge – Stand straight and take one leg forward to lower into a lunge by bending the knees, making sure that your knee does not go in front of your toes. Your back knee wants to be almost touching the floor. Slowly push back up, keeping the weight in your heel and repeat with the other leg. Repeat 10 times (5 on each leg) and do three sets.
- Walking Lunges – Stand straight and take one leg forward to lower into a lunge. As you push back up (through the heel), bring the back foot forward and lunge with that leg. Repeat 10 times (5 on each leg) and do three sets.
- Side Lunges – Stand straight and take a wide step to the right. Keep your weight on the right leg and bend your knee to lower into a side lunge. Push your hips back and keep your head and chest up. Push back up through the heel and repeat with the left leg. Repeat 10 times (5 on each leg) and do three sets.
- Crab Walk – Place a resistance band around your legs, above the knees. Stand with feet hip width apart (make sure that the band is taught) and take 5 wide steps to one side and then 5 to the other. You can do more steps if you have the room. Do three sets.
- Clam shell – Lie on your side with your feet and hips together and knees bent so that they are in line with your bum. Keeping your hips stable, slowly push your top knee upwards towards the ceiling keeping your feet together (Don’t twist your hips). Pause at the top and then return to the starting position. Do three sets of 10 reps. To add extra resistance, place a resistance band around your legs, above the knees.
- Wall Sit – Stand with your back against a wall with your feet shoulder width apart. Push against the wall and lower yourself until your thighs are parallel with the floor. Your knees should be bent at 90 degrees and above your feet. Keep your upper body against the wall and hold for 30 – 60 seconds. Repeat three times.
These exercises are to strengthen the knees for people who have no knee pain. If you experience any pain, please stop the exercises and get advice from your doctor or physiotherapist.
Not sure if you’re doing the exercises right? Come join us! We provide a full induction and ensure your performing every exercise correctly to get the best results and reduce any chance of injury!
If you’re nervous about joining a gym, take a look at last week’s blog on gaining back your Gym Confidence!
Caroline & Hannah xx