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Can’t Wait To Eliminate Knee Pain? Try These 8 Exercises To Strengthen Your Knees

Can’t Wait To Eliminate Knee Pain? Try These 8 Exercises To Strengthen Your Knees

We can’t deny that our knees are one of the most important parts of our bodies. Whether you play football, swim, do the housework or drive a car, your knees are essentially the ones bringing your forward, getting you to places and helping you get things done. Knee pains are never to be trifled with.

Muscle Groups Supporting Our Joints

knee_anatomy

    As you can see from the illustration above, our knees are intricately structured with various ligaments, muscles, and bones. With ligaments, you might have heard once or twice about the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) and how it has ended the careers of many sportsman and women because it is essential for normal knee function.

    Just as important as our knee ligaments are the supporting muscle groups surrounding the joints. Simply by strengthening your supporting muscle groups, you’ll strengthen your knees and ligaments supported by them.

    Take note that the following 8 exercises involve low impact movements and are specially chosen with the purpose of strengthening and restoring balance to the support muscle groups, resulting in strong knees with stability.

    1. Seated Straight Leg Raises

    Seated leg raises are one of the easiest knee strengthening exercises you can do at the comfort of your own work desk. Most importantly, it works the quadriceps which is the large front muscle of the thigh.

    two_chairs

      Instructions:

      Step One: Sit on a chair with one leg on another

      Step Two: Simply lift one leg and straighten for 5-10 seconds

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      Step Three: Slowly lower down your leg onto the other chair and repeat for 5 – 10 times for each leg

      2. Seated Bent Leg Raise

      skimble-workout-trainer-exercise-seated-leg-lifts-3_iphone-1

        The seated bent leg raise is similar to the seated straight leg raise but this time, bent your leg in a 45 degree angle and hold it there for about 30 seconds. Repeat for 4 repetitions for each leg. Seated bent leg raises are best for the hip flexors which is the muscle greatly involved in supporting walking, running and standing.

        3. Abductor Raises

        You would want to take note that this exercise has been recorded by doctors in the Journal of Romanian Sports Medicine Society to help patients with knee pains, drastically. The abductor raises is an exercise that helps strengthen your abductor muscle groups such as buttocks and lateral hip region.

        side_hip_abduction

          Instructions:

          Step One: Lie on side with arm supporting your head

          Step Two: Straighten both legs out, you can bend lower leg slightly to support body

          Step Three: Lift straightened upper leg up and hold for 5-10 seconds. Do 10-12 repetitions per leg

          4. Hamstring Curls

          When experiencing knee pains, you won’t quite exactly know where the pain is. Sometimes, it could even occur at the back of the knee. To reduce the pain, hamstring curls is a great exercise to keep those thighs toned and to strengthen those hamstrings.

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          trail-leg-curl-400x400

            Instructions:

            Step One: Stand against a pole or a chair

            Step Two: Lift your leg up towards your buttock, keeping your foot pointing to the ground

            Step Three: Hold your foot in the position for 5 – 10 seconds

            Step Four: Repeat for 15 repitions per leg

            5. Step Up

            The step up is an overall strengthening exercise for your entire lower body especially the supporting muscles for your knees. However, do note that if you experience discomfort during the step up exercise, lower the height of the step.

            step-up

              Instructions:

              Step One: Just like climbing stairs, put one foot up the step

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              Step Two: Lift yourself to place the other foot up, using the foot to support yourself while lowering the other

              Step Three: Repeat for 1 minute before changing to the other foot to step up first

              6. Spinning

              Unlike slow jogging, spinning on a stationary bike doesn’t put much impact on your knees and it helps strengthen your ligaments and surrounding muscles around your knee.

              sole-fitness-sb700-exercise-bike

                Instructions:

                Spin 10 minutes every day with light resistance

                7. Short Arcs

                Short arcs are the quintessential exercise for knee strengthening, widely used for rehabilitation after knee surgery or injury.

                maxresdefault

                  Instructions:

                  Step One: Lay on your back

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                  Step Two: Place a foam roller or a ball under the knee

                  Step Three: Straighten your knee and hold the position for 3-5 seconds. Repeat 10 -15 times per leg

                  8. Seated Knee Marching

                  When you strengthen the muscles around your knees, you basically add more stability and mobility to your knees. With the seated knee marching exercise you can strengthen the quadriceps.

                  seated-knee-marching

                    Instructions:

                    Step One: Sit on a Chair with back straight

                    Step Two: Lift one knee up slowly and slowly lower it

                    Step Three: Repeat with other knee and coninue for one minute

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                    Published on March 8, 2019

                    How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

                    How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

                    When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

                    Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

                    Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

                    How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

                    How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

                    Think about your current workouts:

                    If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

                    In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

                    A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

                      A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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                      Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

                      Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

                      Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

                      Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

                      This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

                      Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

                      Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

                      The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

                      Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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                      Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

                      Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

                      The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

                      The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

                      Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

                      Meet Strong Stan

                      Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

                      While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

                      While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

                      Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

                      Meet Flexible Fiona

                      Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

                      Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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                      To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

                      Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

                      It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

                      Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

                      Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

                      What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

                      In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

                      In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

                      So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

                      You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

                      If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

                      If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

                      Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

                        Final Thoughts

                        If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

                        Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

                        Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

                        With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

                        More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

                        Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

                        Reference

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