Justina Triasovaite is a certified female personal trainer in London and also runs justinatraining.com, a site with useful information for those who are interested in general fitness and body transformation. A committed health and fitness fanatic, Justina is very passionate about helping people transform their lives.
We have asked Justina to pass on some words of wisdom and advice when it comes to your knees - she is often seeing clients who struggle from knee pain and discomfort and it is important we all look after them. Running can put a lot of strain on our knees so we should all be spending time strengthening them and giving them a little TLC!
Simple exercises to strengthen your knees
Are your knees giving you pain? Are your muscles and joints feeling weak? Don’t fret! This short guide to strengthen your knees will help you spring out of bed in the morning ready and raring to go!
Here is the lowdown on the muscle groups surrounding your knee. The muscles of the knee include the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calf muscles. The muscles work together to stabilise the knee joint allowing flexible movement. Without them you would have trouble getting up in the morning and you’d have to forget about running or jumping, even walking would be impossible!
The hamstring muscle group extends across the posterior surface of the thigh. Extending along the anterior surface of the thigh are the four muscles of the quadriceps femoris group. The gastrocnemius muscle, which acts as a flexor, extends from the distal end of the femur.
It’s vital to keep those muscles strong to assist knees with movement. If they are weak and overworked, you are more likely to pull a muscle.
Week knee muscles means frail, wobbly and injury prone knees!
What Causes Knee Pain?
Unfortunately, there are a variety of things that can cause knee pain. It might be something simple like overworked, overtired knees or it could be the result of something more serious like arthritis.
It is important to understand what is causing your pain so that you can design an exercise regime tailored to your needs. It is also vital to know whether your pain is coming and going or whether it is chronic pain. If you have noticed that you are experiencing pain constantly that means you might have something more serious than tired knees and you probably need to consult with your doctor before continuing what you are doing.
Try to listen to your body and understand when the pain comes. If you concentrate on this you might be able to pinpoint what causes your troubles. Is it too much walking? Too much squatting? Or are you spending too many hours sat at your desk?
Usually, when I am putting together an exercise regime for runners the type of exercises I set do not put direct pressure on the knees.
It is incredibly important to do an appropriate warm up before doing any exercise. A quick five or ten minute dynamic warm up can include: a jog on the spot, knee and hip rotation, hinging, high knees, kick back and side raises. If you want, you could also fit in some squats and lunges.
After your warm-up is complete you can get on with these exercises to ensure your knees are in tip-top condition:
- Begin with seared leg raises using a loop resistance band. In order to maximise the effectiveness of this exercise you should do a minimum of 4 sets on each leg, with 20 reps per set.
- Following on from the leg raises you should do some lying leg curls using dumbbells. Once again, it is important to get the most out of the exercise. Complete a minimum of 4 sets on each leg for 20 reps.
- Kick backs are a great way to work the muscle group surrounding your knee. Tip: make sure you are activating your glutes, not just swinging your leg around aimlessly. Do a minimum of 4 sets each leg with 20 reps per set.
- Side raises. Tip: make sure you can stand stable on one leg before starting the exercise, try to keep one leg off the ground throughout the whole set. Add a resistance band around your ankles to make it more challenging. Complete a minimum of 4 sets on each leg for 20 reps.
If you are lucky enough to have access to a gym here are a few extra tips that may help:
1) Seated leg extension. Tip: Do not overextend
2) Lying leg curls. Tip: make sure you are not raising your hips. The exercise will be most effective if you keep your hips firmly on the machine.
There you have it!
Hopefully with some patience and hard work you can put these tips to good use and alleviate some of the pain you might be feeling. If used correctly these exercises will ensure healthy and strong knees.