How To Protect Your Knees Part 1

How To Protect Your Knees Part 1

by Coachjon

As part of the training program for all our clients, we incorporate many knee-strengthening exercises. This is because knees are a common potential “problem area” for clients regardless if they are national team athletes, or regular men and women who want to stay healthy for life.

VMO Muscle on the inside of your knees

The most commonly weak area of muscle surrounding the knees that we have found in most clients is the vastus medialis. Especially the oblique fibers of that muscle (VMO). This is the “teardrop”muscle that is on the inside of your knee. It stabilizes the joint and helps protect from injury.

Yes… in most people it doesn’t look like a tear-drop. That is because it is underdeveloped in many athletes, and is hardly visible. Especially clients who use jogging as their main exercise. This is because they seldom get into a deep squatting position during training.

The reason for this is that the VMO is activated in the top range of the squat, as well as the absolute bottom range of the squat.

Don’t worry, going all the way down in a squat exercise is safe. And so is letting your knees pass your toes. Ask anybody that thinks it dangerous to find a medical study dated after 1985 saying that it is dangerous. (Hint – such studies don’t exist).

So to train it effectively, we need to load the top range of the movement, as well as the bottom range.

The 2 exercises we often use for the strengthening of the VMO for beginner clients are the peterson step-up (or incline step up if you have trouble balancing) and the split squat.

Below are descriptions of how to perform these 2 exercises correctly.

For the Peterson step up, you can start with an easier version on an incline board, this is called an incline step up. Malcolm, one of the coaches at my gym will demonstrate the exercises.

singapore personal trainerIncline step up 1.

Start position -

  • Working foot on the board (in this case the left foot)
  • Other foot completely in front of the working foot
  • Weight is on the balls of the working foot
  • Chest is upright
personal training in singaporeIncline step up finish.

Finish position -

  • Push your entire body-weight through the balls of your working foot to get to the finish position. Use ONLY the working foot, the non-working foot does not help you by “jumping”.
  • Chest is up, look straight ahead
  • The non working foot stays in front
  • If this is too easy, you can hold dumbbells in your hands to increase resistance. However make sure you can perform it perfectly without wobbling, leaning forward, or “jumping” off the non working leg before increasing the resistance.

Once you can do incline step-ups properly, you can move on to Peterson step-ups using a flat board instead of an inclined board.

singapore gym trainingPeterson step up.

Start position

  • Working foot on the board (in this case the left foot)
  • Other foot completely in front of the working foot
  • Weight is on the balls of the working foot
  • Chest is upright
singapore fitness trainerPetersen step up 2.

Finish position -

  • Push your entire body-weight through the balls of your working foot to get to the finish position. Use ONLY the working foot, the non-working foot does not help you by “jumping”.
  • Keep the working foot heel “up” as high as possible, for as long as possible. Imagine you are wearing a pair of very high heels. Only at the last moment, then put your heel down as shown in the picture.
  • Chest is up, look straight ahead
  • The non working foot stays in front
  • If this is too easy, you can hold dumbbells in your hands to increase resistance. However make sure you can perform it perfectly without wobbling, leaning forward, or “jumping” off the non working leg before increasing the resistance.

After doing your incline step ups or Peterson step ups, you can do your split squats. The board under your front foot is optional and if you are strong enough and flexible enough, you don’t need it.

knee rehab exercise singaporeSplit squat start.

Start Position

  • Chest up
  • Long stride
  • Place feet with some “stagger” left and right. Imagine your feet are on a set of railroad tracks, rather than on a single rail.
knee pain rehab singapore exercisesSplit squat 2.

Bottom Position

  • Let your hips drop down AND forward
  • Let your knee go as far forward as possible
  • Make sure that your front leg “closes” completely. Imagine that there is something behind your front knee, your leg should squeeze it.
  • Keep your chest up, and look ahead
  • Your back leg should bend, and your back foot should point straight ahead rather than outwards
  • To return to the start position move your head and shoulders BACK rather than lifting your buttocks and hips up.
  • It is normal to feel a stretching in your back leg and hip.

Below is a picture of how your front foot should be positioned for the step up AND the split squat. It should be pointed about 10-15 degrees outwards. (see the foot on the board). This activates the quadriceps muscles better, and allows most people to get to a deeper and more comfortable bottom position.

step up foot positionIncline step up foot position.

Perform 4 sets of step ups with 12-15 reps per set. After that perform 4-5 sets of split squats with 10-12 reps per set. Lower yourself in about 4 seconds and come up in 2 seconds.

There we have it! Get stronger muscles to protect your knee joint, and keep those knees healthy.

Coach Jonathan Wong is a Singapore personal trainer and performance expert. He is also a fitness author and a member of Singapore Men’s Health Advisory Panel.

 

For the best personal training and fitness boot camp program in Singapore visit www.genesisgym.com.sg

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