When asked recently to write an article on knee pain and injury prevention and give my top three tips or exercises to treat or prevent knee pain - my response was typical as an expert in any field - how can I distill down a massive topic to three exercises? The truth is you cannot. So I came up with six of the best.
I frequently call the knee - the naughty middle child! Why?
The knee is a modified hinge! The knee is capable of flexion and extension and some small amounts of internal and external rotation only. However - the joint above (the hip) and the joint below (the ankle) have many directions of movement available - especially the hip - and therefore require lots of stabilisation. Indeed one could almost solely focus on the hip to treat the knee.
Top Six Exercises for Knee Injury Prevention
Here is my pick for strengthening exercises to prevent knee injury: Exercises shown here should always be demonstrated and supervised before they are performed to ensure correct technique and therefore optimal outcomes. Consult your local strength and conditioning expert, chiropractor or physical therapist for further instruction.
Always remember - every exercise has a regression to something easier, and a progression to something more difficult. If you need further help here please feel free to leave us a message and we can post an option to demonstrate. And again I can't reiterate enough - seek professional guidance before beginning any exercise program.
Chair Squat / Single leg sit to stand
A superb exercise almost every body can do to improve leg and hip strength. Place feet in a wide comfortable position hands in front of you like a genie, spine neutral position and sit back to touch your buttock on the chair. Stay leaning forward and rise from the chair (nose over toes) to stand up tall.
If this movement is to easy - it can be performed with a weight - or changed to a single leg option as demonstrated
A simple exercise to build strength below the knee. Start with two legs and simply raise up and down avoiding rolling ankles - keeping the knee slightly bent and the feet nice and straight. Once you are able to perform 30 easily - progress to single leg calf raises - supported - and then progress to single leg unsupported. Once you can perform 30 single leg calf raises unsupported you get a high five from me - but then you can add weight with a dumbell or kettlebell etc.
Bridge - Hamstring Bias
Performed laying on your back like a normal bridge - but with your feet further away from your buttock than normal. Work up to 30 second holds. Once this becomes too easy progress to single leg lifts alternating sides. Progressions can be achieved by moving the feet further away from the buttock or lifting up and down from the ground repeatedly.
A brilliant exercise for targeting the gluteals and the buttocks. Place the rear foot on a chair and lower down within your limits towards the ground over three seconds. Drive back up to the start keeping the knee in alignment with the foot minimising any deviation or twisting. Work up to 20 each side. Progressions.
Aimed at the muscles in the lower back and the lateral hip. Perform with the bottom knee bent at first and then progress to feet stacked, legs straight, knees in alignment, hips stacked, shoulders stacked all directly above each other. Please be careful if you have a history of shoulder problems and seek supervision first.
A tough exercise and should be progressed from the easiest version first. Provides strength for hip and knee stability in your adductor and groin muscles.
Progression (a) knee on chair with knee bent, bottom leg straight, lift and hold.
Progression (b) both legs straight thigh on chair
Progression (c) foot on chair bottom foot on floor
Progression (d) foot on chair with lower leg raised to chair
Perform 30 second holds before progressing to the next option