Follow these 7 healthy knee stretches and tips for happy knees Knee pain is one of the most common ailments that people struggle with when exercising. As the largest joint in the body, your knees certainly take on their fair share of impact. Some people simply give in to accepting knee pain as being an inevitable side effect of exercise or aging. The good news is you CAN prevent, and even reverse it…simply follow these 7 tips to assure your knees stay happy and healthy!

Tip 1

Healthy Knees Require Warm-Up with Soft Tissue Work

Before you perform your regular workouts, make it a point to include a well-planned warm-up routine. A proper warm-up is one of the simplest things you can do to prevent knee problems. A dynamic based warm-up (think things like skipping, shuffling, butt kicks, etc.) will get the synovial fluid going in your joints which means less friction during your workouts. Soft tissue work (foam rolling) is also a must for today’s exercisers. The pressure of your body into the roller allows you to hit the areas of the quads, calves, glutes, etc and work out “trigger points” that, when left alone, could eventually lead to pain or injury.

Tip 2

Ankle & Hip Mobility for Healthy Knees

Knee pain is often a result of mobility issues in the joint below (ankle) or above (hip), so keeping those joints healthy and mobile will go a long way in keeping the knees pain free. Poor ankle mobility will limit your ability to perform certain exercises properly, which often means the knees pay the price by absorbing more force. Ankle mobility can be limited by tight calves or perhaps from previous ankle injuries. Poor hip mobility can have a similar impact on the knees. I generally use the body weight squat as a good indicator of hip mobility. The best way to squat is with your hips first. Those who lack good hip mobility will often bend at the knees first to initiate the squat and then end up with their weight too far forward. Again, the knees will then bear too much force because the hips aren’t moving the way they should.

Tip 3

Maintaining a Healthy Weight Helps to Keep Knees Healthy

Being overweight really does have an impact on your joints, especially the knees. The heavier you are, the more stress you are going to deliver through the knees. Pretty simple on this one…maintain a healthy weight and you’ll greatly lower your chances of suffering from knee pain.

Tip 4

Keep Your Backside Strong to Lessen the Strain on your Knees

When I say backside, I’m talking about your glutes and hamstrings. Your glutes are built to be strong and should be the powerhouse of your lower body. When working properly, they will take a brunt of the force away from the knees during many exercises. Likewise, your hamstrings shouldn’t be ignored! Many knee problems are caused by an imbalance in the legs. Many people tend to be quad dominant, which will put a lot of stress on the knees. Be sure to balance out your leg workouts by including an equal amount of quad, glute and hamstring exercises.

Tip 5

Be Aware of Your Knees' Aches and Pains

This one almost seems too obvious, but if something hurts don’t do it! Far too many people try to work through the pain thinking they will eventually get through it. Instead, try to address the issue by figuring out what is causing the pain and then take the proper steps to correct it. Remember, when you’re injured you are not doing your body any good by continuing to do the same thing.

Tip 6

Focus on your Form to Keep Your Knee Movements Natural

I’m often amazed at the amount of people who blame a certain exercises for their knee pain when, in fact, the problem is in how they’re performing the exercise. If you think your form may be off on certain exercises like squats, deadlifts and lunges, be sure to seek some help or do some research to assure you are doing them safely and correctly.

Tip 7

Build Good Posture and Core Strength will Help Minimize Knee Stress

If you are one that suffers from bad posture, chances are you could be hurting your knees. Keeping your head centered over your shoulders and your shoulders over your abdomen and pelvis will keep your back, hips and knees happy. Make sure you’re including plenty of core exercises in your routine to strengthen the abs and low back. This will promote good posture and, ultimately, lessen the pressure on your knees. Knee pain can be a major road block for many lifters, athletes and every day fitness enthusiasts. But, by taking some of these tips and putting them into action, chances are very good that you’ll prevent, or even reverse, any future problems.  
About the writer: Ken Grall is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and owns and operates an Edge Fitness in Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more about Ken.