Knee pain is an all too common condition that can rob people of their enjoyment of life. The common treatment for many years has been rest and static stretching. The problem, as many have discovered, is that those two things will usually make the problem worse.
Your knee joint is the largest and most complex joint in your body. The joint brings together the femur bone of the upper leg and the tibia of the lower leg. It is supported by …
- Muscles to control its movement
- Ligaments to provide stability
- Cartilage to absorb pressure
In addition to the femur and the tibia, there are two other bones that make up the knee joint:
- The Patella (kneecap)
- The Fibul (outer shin bone)
The quadriceps muscles are the main activators of knee flexion and extension. There are four quadriceps muscles; the vastus medialis, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius. Of the four, it is the vastus medialis (or VMO) which plays the biggest part in controlling knee activity.
Main Causes of Knee Injury
Weak or Tight VMO
Knee pain is often due to weakness and tightness of the quadricep muscles. As the VMO muscle is primarily responsible for knee flexion, weakness and tightness in it is the most common muscular cause of knee injury.
The weaker the muscles that support the knee joint are, the more compressive forces that will be applied to the joint with every step that you take.
Tendons are the soft tissues at the end of your muscles that link them to bones. The main tendon in the knee joint is the patellar tendon. Overuse and / or excessive stretching can cause damage to the patellar tendon. Weak quad muscles also put excessive pressure on this tendon.
People who engage in a lot of jumping are also likely to suffer from tendon damage, or tendonitis.
How to Bulletproof your Knees with the Slant Board
VMO Strength & Stability
The most significant thing you can do to prevent knee injury is to strengthen the muscles that support it. As we’ve learned already, the key muscle involved here is the VMO. In addition to extending the knee, the VMO plays a key role in proper knee-cap tracking.
Strong VMO muscles contract and pull the patellar up smoothly and evenly, leading to ideal knee cap tracking in the femoral groove.
The best exercise to fully work the VMO is the squat. However, traditional flat heel squats do not do a very good job of isolating this muscle. Doing squats on the slant board transforms the exercise into an enhanced VMO activator. Here’s how …
- The slant board keeps your body more upright. This keeps the focus on the vastus medialis of the quads rather than the stronger glutes and hamstrings.
- The slant board squat has your knees over your toes in the bottom squat position. This allows you to squat deeper, allowing for greater VMO activation. It also requires less hip joint flexion, reducing lower back stress.
- When you squat with knees over your toes, the center of pressure moves down to the lower leg. This provides greater strength capacity in the lower leg, including the plantar flexor calves, the tibialis, and the ankle. When you jump, run, and skip, this enhanced strength in the lower leg will greatly reduce the impact on the knee joint.
Supporting Muscle Stretching
When you stretch the muscles that surround the knee joint, you will greatly reduce the stress on that joint. This is especially important before and after exercise. The slant board is an awesome tool for doing exactly that.
Three key stretching exercises on the slant board that will go a long way to helping prevent knee injury are …
- VMO isometric hold
- Tibialis stretch
- Quad step down stretch
Adding slant board training to your lower body exercise routine will transform your workouts. It will also help to bulletproof your knees due to its better biomechanics. So, don’t you think it’s time you did your knees a favour and jumped on the slant board bandwagon?