Your knee routinely feels the force of five to eight times your body weight with every step, making it the most taxed joint of the human body. A knee is designed to withstand millions of steps during a lifetime, but sometimes all that stress can cause your knees to break down. What can you do to prevent knee pain? And stop the pain you may already feel? We’ve designed our knee guide to teach you how to keep knees working for years to come.
Never had knee pain? Excellent. Let’s keep it that way. And while not all knee problems are preventable, you can prevent many issues and also improve knee function with strength and flexibility training.
With increased muscular strength and flexibility surrounding your knees, the better they bear their load. Muscles are shock absorbers; the stronger they are, the better they can offload the hips and knees and the better your joints will feel — no matter your age.
Lower extremity strength training includes anything that builds muscle around the hips and knees. Stationary biking is the easiest way to start and has the added benefit of aiding knee and hip mobility. Biking can be done several times per week on a stationary or recumbent bike; we recommend biking for 20 to 30 minutes per session.
Functional strength exercises are designed to strengthen multiple muscle groups simultaneously. Unlike a single muscle exercise such as a bicep curl, functional strength exercises like as a push-up, strengthen all of the muscles in a body area simultaneously. When you move normally, muscles work together, so it makes more sense to exercise them together as well.
Everyone’s knee has different limitations. These exercises build strength around the hips and knees but they might be too much for some readers. As with any exercise, please check with a doctor if you have any concerns before starting a new workout. Here are a few functional strength exercises that are great for strengthening the muscles that support the knees:
As sore knees stiffen, the muscles around the knees tighten as well. This soft tissue tightening often amplifies knee pain. A foam roller is a terrific, low-cost option that can be used at home to improve flexibility and reduce pain through a process known as myofascial release.
How do I choose a foam roller? Foam rollers are inexpensive and available at most sports stores or online. There are many options so we recommend trying different types to see what works best for your body.
How to Roll your knee
The Hamstrings Roll
- Place a foam roller under your right knee, with your leg straight. Cross your left leg over your right ankle. Please your hands flat on the floor behind you.
- Roll your body forward until the roller reaches your glutes. Then roll back and forth over the roller.
- Repeat with the other side.
Note: You can also do this with both legs on the roller
- Sit on a foam roller with it positioned on the back of your right thigh, just below your glutes. Cross your right leg over the front of your left thigh. Put your hands behind you for support.
- Roll your body forward until the roller reaches your lower back. Then roll back and forth.
- Repeat on the other side.
What’s in a Knee?
The knee is a hinge joint, meaning it works like a door hinge to straighten and bend in roughly 130 degrees of motion. And it is strong — built to withstand the extreme forces created by running, jumping, twisting and skipping. Unlike the hip and shoulder, which are ball and socket joints, the knee offers less rotational movement in exchange for more stability.
©2019 The New York Times News Service