A client of mine was telling me this story about his knees. He thought he did take care of his knees, but apparently not.
He was having knee pain so he went to a doctor. I know it sounds like the opening line of a joke, but if you’ve ever had knee pain you know it’s no joking matter!
“Your MRI looks worse than you do,” his doctor said to him.
After a torn ligament and cartilage damage he had suffered many years ago, he was given a diagnosis of “early” (because he’s young) osteoarthritis. The effects of his damaged cartilage had begun to surface and cause him pain.
The doctor said that his knee looked like it belonged to someone who would be much more limited physically.
She was surprised by the muscle development in his legs and figured this is what kept his knee from acting up for so many years.
We were talking about what you can do when the knee breaks down.
You can’t stop squatting and lunging. If you do them in life, you need to train for them.
That’s the whole point of training for the acts of daily living. Bending and stepping forward, back or to the side are movements we all do every day.
No matter what, we still need strong legs and stable knees.
And even if you have limitations, like cartilage damage, you still need strong legs.
One of the best exercises to strengthen your legs is the single leg squat.
Consider walking: you spend the majority of the time on a single leg!
This means with single leg training, you can provide a very “real world” leg exercise experience while at the same delivering a challenging load to the leg muscles with a
resistance you are used to – your own body weight.
Body weight exercises have gained a lot of popularity in the past few years. And it is a good idea to be able to do body weight exercises before adding extra weight (as you would in the weight room in a gym)…….makes sense right?
The depth and the speed of these movements can be adjusted based on the appropriate skill and fitness level, or for limitations like knee issues.
Another important part of healthy knees is stability. Take care of your knees in different ways.
A major knee stabilizer is your hamstring muscles since they attach to the top of the lower leg bones. A hamstring that is strong while it is lengthening is better able to keep the knee joint stable while performing a wide range of ground-based activities.
With injured knees, or to prevent injury, it is best to perform a variety of movements at a variety of angles and avoid excessive loads and/or repetitive motions. You want maximum benefit with minimum stress.
Since many of you strength train and some of you have personal trainers working with you, be sure to address knee safety and leg strength when you put together an exercise program.
Whether you’ve had knee replacements, have damaged knees, or are athletes seeking better performance, knee health is essential to being able to move well and stay active for years to come.
Take care of your knees and they’ll take care of you!
If you feel stuck and need additional support to adopt a new healthy habit or routine, consider working with me. We can partner up in setting goals, drawing on your skills and strengths, and implementing strategies to help you find your way to lasting healthy success.
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For over 15 years, Shelli has been a freelance writer and wellness habit coach on Joyinmovement. She writes about brain fitness, creating a healthy lifestyle, traveling the world, and making positive habits stick. Stop procrastinating! Take action, join her free newsletter.