You’re working hard to be fit, but your body is fighting back a bit? Yes, stiff joints and inflammation can make you weak in the knees—here’s how to protect them at the gym!
First things first: if you’re not performing exercises with proper form, or if you’re doing the wrong types of exercises for your fitness or experience level, you might be prone to hurting your knees. Some examples of choices you might be making that can have a direct negative effect on your knee health during your workouts include:
- You’re lifting too much weight, especially in exercises that require you to bend at the knee
- You’re skipping your warm ups or not warming up effectively or enough, especially in the lower body
- You’re not monitoring your own form because you don’t know how, or you haven’t been instructed on proper technique
- You’re distracted, or making poor choices with your exercises or exercise order, because you’re in a hurry
Luckily, these mistakes can be easily avoided with a little extra effort and attention.
Start with exercise selection. Be nice to your knees and hedge against injury during these common exercises:
- Leg Extensions are infamous for causing knee injuries. Because weight is placed on the ankles, the knee experiences a great deal of added force as it extends, which increases the likelihood of a patella (kneecap) or quadriceps tendon injury. Gym-goers with touchy knees who want to train their quadriceps muscles can look to other exercises, such as properly performed squats and lunges.
- Squats (when performed incorrectly) have a reputation for being bad for people with “bad knees.” Actually, squats can be a fantastic way to train the quadriceps, abdominal, and lower back muscles to help protect your bad knees. But, when not performed correctly, squats run the risk of causing knee injuries.
If you’re interested in preventing knee injuries, it makes sense to take the time to learn proper squatting technique with a specialist (like a trainer) who can guide you and correct your form. You don’t want to miss out on this exercise!
- Treadmill Uphill Running at the start of your workout, especially without warming up or without treadmill cardio experience, may be a serious risk of straining your knee, hamstring, or hamstring tendon.
If you want to use the treadmill to warm up, start with a flat surface, or even walking. It will also help you to be sure you have proper footwear so your knees aren’t abused by all those foot strikes on the treadmill’s hard surface.
- Kickboxing and plyometric moves may require you to raise your leg while kicking, or land on a hard surface with impact. This places the knee in a vulnerable position. There is no support for the snapping of the knee joint in the air!
Also, upon impact with a bag, floor or person, the knee can be easily injured. Experience and fitness level do matter when it comes to protecting your knees while moving with speed or intensity.
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