Knee injuries are very common and are often worsened by or even a result of bad exercise technique. Having experienced years of knee rehabilitation, I’m very conscious of perfect technique when training my clients and want to share some of these cues with you so you can keep your knees in tip top shape.
In my 20’s I hurt my knee playing amateur netball. I didn’t seek medical advice straight away as it would only occasionally flare up and I’d manage it with rest and ice it. After an unsatisfactory visit to the Doctor who prescribed me anti-inflammatory’s for the rest of my life, I went to an orthopaedic surgeon who diagnosed a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Within 3 months I was in hospital having a knee reconstruction. They replaced the ligament in my knee with part of my hamstring all through keyhole surgery, amazing! I walked out of hospital with a brace on my leg the next day. No wonder footballers are so quick to recover these days.
Unlike a footballer, I was slack with my rehab exercises and due to this I had a fair amount of muscle wastage in that leg. I ended up having another operation on my knee, which was the universe telling me to get educated and do my rehab exercises. By the third operation, I finally got that message loud and clear.
I worked out that I need to evenly build the muscles around the joint to keep it supported and strong. A lot of leg exercise machines in the gym are no good for knees as they don’t build the muscles in symmetry. They can be useful as a temporary measure for certain rehab, but to build all of your muscles evenly you are far better off with squats.
There are so many variations with squats and the key points to remember is to ALWAYS make sure your knees stay behind your toes. It’s like you’re going to sit on a chair, your bottom goes backward and your arms come out for balance. You also need to keep your back straight and to do this you keep your shoulders pulled backwards. When starting off you can use a fitball on your back against a wall and when you’re advanced, jumping squats, but always keep those knees behind the toes.
With modern sedentary lifestyle and bad posture habits, we seem to lose our natural technique as we get older. If you ever look at a toddler squat, they do them perfectly.
So add some squats into your exercise routine to build the muscles in the legs that support the knee joint.
Angela Gawthorne Mobile Personal Training Specialist Fitness Revolution
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