Over the years, our poor joints get a lot of wear a tear put through them. Not least of these are the knees. They are often a common source of pain as we get older, and therefore it is very important to keep them functioning so that you can continue to enjoy and lead an active lifestyle.
Here are 3 exercises that should be done 4-6 times per week to maintain good functioning of the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings, which are the main muscles that can help to support the knee joints.
- Sit to stand out of a chair
In some ways, this exercise is like a supported squat, but also extremely functional. It is important to not push up with your arms/hands as this can put excessive load on the shoulders.
Sit in a chair where your feet comfortably touch the ground, with your knee and hip angle at about 90 degrees (and make sure the chair is a sturdy one).
Legs should be hip width apart, with the knees tracking over the toes.
SLOWLY fold at the hips (keep the low back in neutral) to take your weight forward and push up through your heels to help activate the glutes as you move into standing.
As you lower, make sure that your knees stay hip width apart and try not to ‘plonk’ down in the chair (again the SLOWER the better).
If, at first, it is too hard to get up without assistance, sit on a cushion or two so that you are not so low down and over time, see if you can take the cushion out for a few reps.
It also makes it easier if you reach your arms forward as you stand. To make it harder, put them on your hips or rest them in the small of your back.
Repeat this exercise 10 times 2-3 times until you feel some fatigue or start to lose form.
- Activation of the inner quadricep muscle.
This muscle is often quite weak, but important to help with the tracking and control of the position of the knee cap. Uneven muscle balance here can lead to uneven wear through the joint.
To activate and strengthen this muscle without too much load, sit in a chair with your legs at about 90 degrees of hip and knee flexion.
Imagine that your feet are glued to the floor, but you are trying to straighten your knees out. Think about tensing into the inner part of your thigh muscle as you essentially push your feet into the floor. You can put your hand on this area to see if you feel it tensing.
Hold this static contraction for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times.
- Small knee bends with a glute (bottom) squeeze.
This is best done leaning against a gym ball against a wall or leaning back against a wall without the ball, with your feet away from the wall (so that your feet are quite a bit further out than your knees).
Leaning back into the gym ball or wall, come into a SMALL knee bend (no more than 30 degrees). Try to take most of the weight through the heels to help with activation into your glutes and hamstrings (thinking about squeezing into your sit bone area or crease of the glutes can help with this). As you push up continue to press up through your heels. Watch that your knees don’t buckle in.
Repeat 3 sets of 10 reps. Hold on the last rep for 5-10 seconds.
If you have any further questions about these exercises, would like a demonstration or to know more, speak to one of us and we can write out a detailed program that can easily be done at home with little equipment.