Best Exercises For Strong Knees
Hey Newschoolers and freeskiers across the globe,
I am back to give some hopefully helpful information about strengthening the muscles around the knee to reduce injury risk. As a recap of my last post, injuries cannot be prevented, but the RISK of injury can be reduced with things like overall fitness levels, flexibility and strength.
The following post is based on the Clinical Practice Guideline titled “Exercise-Based Knee and Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury Prevention.” CPGs are the highest level of evidence in the PT field and are widely accepted as the current best information.
I’d like to begin by saying you cannot really strengthen the knee joint itself. The join is a hinge joint made of bones but is surrounded by ligaments, tendons and muscles. These connective tissues around the joint can be trained for endurance, flexibility and strength however.
Here is the breakdown of the CPG:
So what are the BEST exercises for knee injury risk reduction? It can be broken down into categories.
Having strong leg muscles has been shown to help with knee health as well. Strengthening of the quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves should be the primary goal in regard to reducing injury risk of the knee. Heavy squats and deadlifts should be incorporated into fitness plans to strengthen these large muscle groups.
Here is a study that supports strength as the most important fitness aspect for injury risk reduction: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_yVzM6FVUj/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Home leg workout: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA6ekhmlsjH/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Various stretching techniques for the lower extremity have been shown to help reduce knee injury risk. For the sake of simplicity, I recommend 30 second stretches for the quads, hamstrings, groins, hip flexors and calves. Dynamic stretches can also be included.
Static stretches: https://www.instagram.com/p/CA3FaB2FxIG/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Dynamic stretches: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bv7hO3iFslN/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Running and jogging have been shown to benefit knee health. Multidirectional running based on the CPG have been techniques used to reduce knee injury risk. Forward, backward, shuffling, skipping, cutting ect are just a few ideas to add some agility into your workouts.
Running Workout: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBGdNdcldDG/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Balance exercises come in all shapes and sizes. Balance is determined by communication between your eyes, your joints and your inner ear. It is key to challenge all of these systems during balance activities. I have included a Bosu Ball workout to try. These can be found in most gyms or picked up online for around $100. Challenge yourself with double and single leg exercises on variable surfaces like grass, carpet and foam.
Balance Workout: https://www.instagram.com/p/CBJxiSmFEeo/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
Plyometrics is just a fancy term for jumping exercises. You basically stretch and load the muscle unit and generate force and power to jump. There are a TON of these workouts easily found on Youtube. With these, loading properly and good technique is key as problems such as tendonitis may develop if you do too much, too quickly. Because skiing has a lot of jumping, plyometric type exercises have a good carry over effect. I included a simple jump workout you can try but don’t be afraid to search for new ideas or message me.
Ahh the core. The good Ole six pack. The “core” is comprised of much more than the abdominals! I argue the core also includes the back muscles, glutes, obliques and more. ANY solid movement begins with a strong/ stiff core. Being in the center of your body, it’s the foundation for movement. Because skiing can be so explosive, a strong core can help make movements easier and controlled. Try hitting core a few times a week after a workout for a few minutes.
Per the CPG, strength, balance, jumping and flexibility of the lower extremities should be incorporated into workout plans multiple days a week for at least 20 mins. Multi-directional running and core strength are additional aspects of fitness to focus on for overall fitness and knee strength. Take things slow and build yourself up over time. Have fun!
Anyone interested in the full CPG shoot me a PM here or on IG.
The above post is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. No medical advice is given and any medical concerns should be directed toward medical professionals.