As the weather warms, walking outdoors is more inviting. For those who love to walk or run, knee strains and injuries can be common complaints. People of all ages tend to overuse and neglect their knees until injury or pain stops them in their tracks (pun naturally intended).
Here are 7 tips to prevent injuring your knees while exercising:
1. Build up the supporting muscles of the knee
The quadriceps, at the front of the thigh, support the knee, as well as the hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh. To strengthen these muscle groups, straighten and lift the legs, extend the leg while sitting, and raise the leg while laying on your stomach. Be sure not to straighten the knee so much that it is pushed back.
2. Aquatic exercises
Strengthen the knee by walking as fast as possible in chest-deep pool water, doing small flutter kicks while holding the side of the pool, or raising each leg to 90 degrees while pressing your back against the side of the pool.
3. Warm up before exercise
Ride a stationary bicycle or walk slowly, then stretch before picking up the pace.
4. Squatting exercises
Stand with feet a few inches apart, toes pointed forward. Bend forward slightly from the waist, pushing butt out, as if sitting down. Don’t go any more than is comfortable. Be sure knee does not extend past the toes when you look down at them.
5. Avoid sudden changes
Don’t increase your pace suddenly. Increase the length of exercise time, as well as the intensity of exercise gradually, to avoid injury or strain to the knee and other muscles as well.
6. Wear proper shoes
Be sure they fit properly with enough room for the toes to spread out while standing on the foot. They also need to be the right shoe for the particular exercise. Replace them every 3 months or so. Avoid wearing high heels, which put pressure on the inside of the knee, causing knee strain.
7. Choose gentle exercises
Swimming and other aquatic exercises, as well as walking, are less likely to strain the knees. Jogging and high impact aerobics present more risk to injure the knees.
Written by: Ruby Moseley, FizzNiche Staff Writer