Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Healthy Knees

Erin Hughes, MSPT, in her book "Knee Stabilization" writes about the knee relying on more than just one muscle and other supporting structures for stability.  I am quite often asked what exercises to do for the knee after pain sets in.  The answer isn't simple. The best plan is to build strength in all of the lower body muscles while the knees are still pain free. There isn't just one exercise to do, but groups of exercises that will help to maintain or build joint stability. While it's important to build strength in supporting muscles, it is equally important to build flexibility particularly in the quadriceps and hamstrings.  Unfortunately, most people rarely find the time for a good stretch. I often tell my class participants as we stretch at the end of class that we do enough to get us out the door.

Common causes of knee pain can include:

A blow to the knee as in a car accident or sporting event
A fall
Sudden turning
Degeneration (we're all getting older)
Repeated stress or overuse.

The last one comes into play from some of the activities that we do sometimes for play. My favorite form of cardio workout has always been step. I could do a step class everyday.  At the end of last year though I gave up teaching some of my step classes and one of the reasons being that I realized I was setting myself up for an overuse injury. Step up step down over and over again and the joints start to do some talking. I know some of you have your favorite cardio workouts.  Some of you love the treadmill.  It's important to vary your workout.  Keep the things you love, but add in a little variety.