If you are experiencing knee pain, even the most mundane activities like walking or stretching can be challenging.
Focusing on ways to prevent knee pain is an important part of your fitness plan.
Knees are the most commonly injured joints in the body, therefore, it's best to arm yourself with ways to prevent or alleviate minor pains before they become major ones.
Even if you are already experiencing knee pain, you can still take steps to heal it.
You can strengthen the muscles around your knees in order to get them back in shape and prevent further damage while alleviating the pain you may have now.
Here are some ways you can target your quadriceps, abductors, hamstrings and other surrounding muscles to fortify your knee joints.
Stretching is a great way to get the blood flowing and loosen up the joints before a workout. Here is a list of the best stretches for your knees.
1. Quadriceps stretch: Stand tall with one hand gently resting on a chair for balance. Grab your left leg by the ankle, bend your knee and pull your ankle up towards your butt. Keep both knees together side by side. Hold for five seconds and repeat on each leg 10 times.
2. Calf stretch: Stand tall next to a stair or a curb. On your left foot, rest your toes on the stair while keeping your heel on the ground. Hold for five seconds and repeat on each leg 10 times.
3. Hamstring stretch: Lie down on your back with both legs extended straight. Bend your left knee and pull the leg towards you by wrapping your arms around your leg. Start by pulling a bent-knee towards your chest. To go further into the stretch, as you hold your left leg, extend your foot up to the ceiling. Hold for five seconds and repeat on each leg 10 times.
4. Lying heel extension: Lie down on your back, with your right leg straight and your left leg bent with the left heel on the ground. Slowly slide the left heel away from your body so both legs are parallel, pause and slowly slide the heel back in. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
5. Wall-assisted squats: Stand about one foot away from a wall and lean your back against it. Slide down the wall into a squat by bending your knees, pause and then slide up again. Be sure to move slowly and contolled, using your hands on the wall for balance if needed. Keep feet and legs parallel and do not allow knees to go out over the toes. This move should remind you of a shallow squat position. Repeat 10 times.
6. Seated leg extensions: Sit tall in a chair with both knees bent and feet on the floor. Lift one leg up, extending from the knee so that the lifted leg is parallel to the floor. Squeeze the lifted leg to strengthen your quadriceps. Hold for five seconds and slowly lower. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
7. Straight-leg raises: While sitting in a chair, rest your foot on another chair (be sure the chair your foot is resting on is about the same height as the chair upon which you are sitting). Keep your left eg straight as you lift the foot a few inches off the chair. Hold for five seconds and return to the starting position. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
8. Abductor raise: Lie on your right side, propped up on one elbow, so that your left leg is on top of your right. Bend your left (bottom) leg up to 90 degrees and keep your right (top) leg straight. Slowly lift right leg, hold for five seconds at the top, then lower. Repeat 10 times on each leg. For a bigger challenge, try using ankle weights.
9. Hamstring curl: Lay down on your stomach with your arms folded beneath your forehead and both legs extended. Bend your left leg and squeeze it as close to your butt as you can. Hold for five seconds and release. Repeat 10 times on each leg.
10. Stair-stepping: Stand in front of a set or stairs or just pne step. Step up onto the stair and straighten your knees fully (don't lock them) and step down. Alternate the lead foot each time you step up and use the same lead foot to step down. If you are comfortable with your balance, try pumping your arms while doing this exercise. Start with one minute of stepping and continue building up more time.
11. Bike-riding: Living in San Diego, everyday is a good day to be outdoors. If you can't make it outside, riding a stationary bike is an excellent alternative. Biking is a good way to increase strength and range of motion. Just be sure that you have your legs in the correct position. At the bottom of the pedal stroke, the bend in the knee should be 15 degrees. Start with 10 minutes of bike riding and continue increasing your time.
A good way is start is with three stretches and three strengthening exercises, 3-4 times a week. It’s a good idea to stretch daily, as this will help prevent stiff and achy joints. You can even stretch multiple times a day.
These exercises are designed to help but if you experience any pain during the stretches or exercises, stop. Pain is your body’s way of indicating that something is wrong. If you have increased soreness after doing these exercises, it may help to ice your knees for 10 - 15 minutes each. Elevate your leg and put a bag of ice (or frozen vegetables) over the knee, with a towel between to protect the skin.
At Boot Camp we focus on strength and flexibility to get you fit and avoid knee pain. Call us (619) 602-8087 for a free trial (two sessions) of our boot camps for women or visit online at San Diego Boot Camp for a free trial and get ready for your Pride celebration!
Be on the lookout - Bootique Fitness will be doing a Zumba warm up for the San Diego Pride 5K on July 21st just before the parade. Come dance with us!
Jaylin Allen is a local fitness expert in San Diego, known for getting her clients in shape in record time through her popular "Boot Camps For Women" and "Zumba" classes. For more information about Jaylin, fitness, or her classes, be sure to check out Bootique Fitness or call (619) 602-8087.