Whether you are walking the Camino pilgrim trail or playing with your young grandchild, strong knees are essential to comfort and mobility and, writes TRISTAN HALL, it’s not until they fail that you realise how important they are.
You will get the best use from your knees if you remember they are a hinge joint, so they do not rotate. Your hip on the other hand is a ball and socket joint.
Thinking about your movements will help you avoid injuries to your knees. If you are lifting something, let’s say a full bag of potting mix, look at the path you will take and move any obstacles, so you don’t have to dodge them.
Then stand directly in front of the load. Awkward movements will increase the chances that you’ll twist your knees. The rule is “prepare your lift, do the lift”.
Here are a few simple exercises for stronger knees:
One Leg Balance – Stand sideways behind a dining chair. Grab on to the back of the chair and lift one leg, bending it backwards at the knee. Hold this position for 20 – 30 seconds. You can let go of the chair to make it more challenging. Switch to your other leg. Repeat this exercise three times for each leg and do a few sets every day.
Wall Squats – Stand with your back against a wall and your feet out in front of you in a wide secure stance. Gradually lower your body down until your knees are bent. Hold that position for 10 seconds then slide back up the wall again. Repeat this 10 times and do 3 sets. If you have a fitball in the house, you can put this behind your back. It makes it easier to slide up and down the wall.
Chair to Standing – This is an easy exercise to do anytime, anywhere. Pick a chair you can comfortably get in and out of, say a dining chair. Stand in front of it and sit down slowly, bending both knees at the same rate. It’s common to favour one side of your body and to slump down into a chair. Perform these actions mindfully. Use your core and your quad muscles to help you move smoothly and securely. Do 10 repetitions and three sets over the day.
These exercises will strengthen your knees by building up your quad muscles and the smaller muscles around them. They will improve the flow of blood and fluids around your knee joints.
Mix the exercises up for variety or put some upbeat music on. You may want to write yourself a note in your diary so you remember to do these moves until they are a part of your everyday routine. Don’t wait for pain and inflammation. Love your knees today.
Tristan Hall is an exercise physiologist with Full Circle Wellness. Visit fullcirclewellness.com.au