Help keep your knees pain free with these 6 moves
Your knees take a pounding every day—whether you’re training for a marathon or simply taking the stairs at work. Did you know women are more likely to experience knee pain than men? The reason why is twofold: Our wider hips create an alignment that can cause us to put more stress on our knees. And some researchers believe female hormones weaken the ligaments around the knees. But men can damage their knees, too, so we can all benefit from adding these six moves to our workouts to strengthen this important joint:
Calf stretch. Stand an arm’s length away from a wall. Place your right foot behind your left foot. With your hands against the wall for support, slowly bend your left knee forward, keeping your right knee straight, your right heel on the floor and your left knee above your left foot. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Temple pose. Stand with your feet at least four feet apart, toes turned out at 45-degree angles. Bring your palms together at heart level, lifting your chest and dropping your shoulders. Inhale, and then begin to bend your knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your knees over your feet, and hold your back as straight as possible without arching it. Draw your belly in and up, and drop your tailbone down. Hold for five to 15 breaths; release and return to standing. Repeat three times.
Partial squats. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and pointed straight ahead. Slowly squat until you’re at about a 45-degree angle, bending at the knees but making sure your knees do not extend forward beyond your toes. To help maintain your balance, try the partial squat while leaning your back against a wall.
Single-leg hamstring curl. Using your right hand for support, hold the back of a chair or the wall and shift your weight to your right leg. Slowly bend and lift your left knee, engaging your hamstring to bring your lower leg high behind you. Lower your foot. Repeat 20 times, and then switch legs.
Leg raises. Lie on your back with your left knee bent, right leg straight, arms by your sides with palms on the floor. Exhale, and then lift your right leg toward your chest as comfortably as possible while contracting the front of your thigh. (The bottom of your foot should face the ceiling at the top of this move.) Keep your abs tight and your hands on the floor. Slowly lower your leg back to the start; switch legs and repeat. Repeat 10 to 12 times per leg.
Step ups. Step up onto a low bench or stair with your right foot, and then bring up your left foot. Step back down, right foot first. Do 20 reps. Repeat, starting with your left foot. Make the move more challenging by holding a dumbbell at your shoulder with your right arm when stepping with your left leg, and your left arm when stepping with your right leg.