Of all the joints in the body, the knee seems to be the one that causes the most discomfort. Lack of flexibility, muscle tightness, and joint restriction all contribute to knee pain. In this article, we reveal 5 ways to maximize your knee health to improve your flexibility and mobility.
Improving Knee Flexibility
Here are five ways to improve knee flexibility:
- Strengthening exercises to make the surrounding muscles more dynamically powerful.
- Mobility exercises to improve range of motion.
- Stretches to increase muscle length.
- Stability exercises to improve balance and coordination.
How to Stretch the Knee Area Safely
Stretching is the most effective way to increase knee flexion. An effective stretching routine will also reduce tension within the quadriceps, hamstring, and calf muscles that surround the knee. Here are some tips to help you safely and effectively benefit from static stretching:
- Take the stretch just to the verge of discomfort: you do not want to feel pain in the fully stretched position.
- Maintain the fully stretched position for 30 seconds.
- Do 3-5 reps of every stretch.
- Always do your static stretching after exercise.
- Prior to a workout, you should do dynamic stretching, where you move a muscle through its full range of motion.
By doing specific exercises to strengthen the muscles around the knee joint, you will be improving knee stability and control, allowing for full range of motion. This will greatly lower your injury risk and help ensure proper biomechanics when walking, jogging, and running.
You should start with body weight knee strengthening exercises and then gradually add in resistance as you get stronger. Resistance can be in the form of resistance bands, cable weights, dumbbells and kettlebells. I do not recommend loading a barbell or the weight on your shoulders as this will compress your spine.
Performing lower body exercises on a slant board will optimize your biomechanics, helping you to maintain the ideal upright position, and while also targeting the vastus medialis muscle above the knee, which is the key strengthener in the knee region.
When you’ve got knee pain, your natural inclination might be to rest it and relax. You should, though, be doing the opposite. According to Peter Hibbard, M.D., a doctor with 28 years of inpatient and outpatient experience, our muscles and joints are designed for movement. He says …
Movement prompts the flow of joint fluids that provide nutrients to cartilage in the knees. Even healthy joints become stiff, painful, and impaired when left to rest.
The more active you are, the less likely you will be to suffer a fall, experience joint stiffness and develop conditions like osteoporosis. Make it your goal to do at least 30 minutes of active movement every day. Start slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your exercise. An evening walk is a great place to start. Increase your distance by 10 percent every week.
When you are off your feet, you need to think about how you are resting your knees. If you are sitting for a long period of time, it is not a good idea to have your knees bent for the entire time. If you do this repeatedly, you will increase the likelihood of getting stiff knees, tight hips, and swollen knee and ankle joints.
If you have to sit for an extended period of time, you should put your feet up on another chair or a footstool. Keep the knees as straight as possible.
Are you a person who spends several hours each day sitting at a desk? Consider investing in a standing desk. If you are unable to do this, you should get up and walk around for 5-10 minutes every couple of hours throughout the working day.
When you wake up in the morning, spend a minute or two bending and stretching out the knee. This will lubricate the know, allowing for a free flow of synovial fluid.
Combine our five knee health strategies to optimize the health of your knees. Doing so will allow you to fully benefit from the incredible joint that connects your leg bones.