Banish knee pain with these 6 moves
Our knees take a lot of strain on a daily basis, from getting us from A to B to taking the impact of a gym workout, an HIIT session or a run - and feeling weak at the knees isn't a good thing, unless you're on a hot date, that is! If you suffer from joint pain, you'll know it can seriously impact your well-being and ability to workout.
Joint pain could be caused by a variety of things, from an existing sports injury to gout or rheumatoid arthritis. It could even be a warning of osteoarthritis in older people. The knee joint is the most frequently damaged joint in your body (1) and you could be putting yourself at risk of knee pain if you're guilty of any of the following:
- You're inactive or spend long periods of time sitting
- You have poor posture
- Your diet is poor
- You're overweight
Minimise the pain
Luckily, you don't have to suffer with knee pain as there are things you can do to save yourself the discomfort. You should try to:
- Stay active - your joints need to move regularly to stay healthy. Cycling, swimming, walking and other low-impact activities can help keep joints supple without straining the knees
- Take a supplement - try glucosamine to support and lubricate your joints
- Try stretches - High-impact workouts or long-distance running can strain your joints, but stretches can help!
Moves to try
Knee pain can radiate from the calf, hamstrings, quadriceps and thighs, so you'll want to try a variety of different stretches which target all these muscle groups Try including these 6 stretches after every workout to protect your knees from pain and injury.
You'll need a small ball, such as a massage or yoga ball, for this stretch, which eases tension in your hamstrings and calf.
Sit on the ground with your right knee pulled into your chest, knee bent. Wedge the ball under your right knee so it's held between your hamstring and calf. Now pull your shin towards your body then rotate your foot, first clockwise then anti-clockwise. You should carry on until you feel the tension release, then switch to the other leg.
Calf Wall Stretch
You'll need a wall to lean against. Face the wall and flex your left foot, placing your heel on the spot where the floor meets the wall - keep your toes elevated against the wall and your heel on the floor. Your leg should be as straight as possible whilst you slowly lean in towards your front leg and hold the stretch for 5 seconds. Switch to your right leg and aim for 10 to 15 reps per leg for a deep stretch.
Your quads are shortened by spending long periods of time sitting at your desk (or on the sofa watching TV) which means they're constantly tense. Using a foam roller (an affordable piece of equipment) can help to stretch them.
Lying facedown on the floor, place a foam roller under your right quad. With the majority of your weight on your leg, roll slowly from side to side and up and down. The foam roller should target tighter muscle spots, easing pain! Switch legs and try to aim for at least 5 minutes per leg, or until the stretch no longer feels painful.
Quad and Hip Stretch
Want to stretch out those quad muscles whilst also targeting your hips? This move is perfect.
Kneeling on one knee (put a towel or mat under your knee for support, if you need), keep your other foot flat on the ground in front of you - you should be making a 90-degree angle with both legs or as close as possible. Slowly lean forward towards your front leg and stretch your hip. Grab the ankle of the leg on the ground and pull it back towards your bum to deeply stretch the hip and hamstring to the knee. Aim for 10 to 15 reps to ease tightness.
Your hamstrings could be the source of knee pain and tightness, so stretching them could alleviate any discomfort you're feeling, making this a great move for before and after your run. Keep a resistance band handy so you can do this stretch on-the-go.
Lie on your back with your left leg straight out on the floor - keep your foot flexed. Lift your right leg and use a resistance band to lift it as high as is comfortable. You should feel the stretch from your knee down the back of your leg. Hold this for 5 seconds with your foot contracted, then relax your foot - repeat for 10 to 15 reps of 5 seconds each, and then switch to the other leg.
The Leg Raise
To strengthen quadriceps, this move is perfect - and it puts hardly any strain on your knee.
Lie on the floor faceup and keep one knee bent, with the other leg flat on the ground. Lift your straight leg up and rotate your leg outwards - your toes should be pointing on a diagonal. Release and repeat - aim for 3 sets of 10 to 15 reps and alternate your legs as you go.
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