There are little situations as frustrating as an injury that keeps you from reaching your fitness goals. If you are just starting out on your fitness journey to better health, an untimely injury can be overwhelming – it can make you halt your fitness routine all together.
Your knees often take the brunt of sports injuries, making even the minute tasks of daily life like standing and walking, unbearable. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to prevent knee injuries from occurring, allowing you to continue your wellness journey.
Here are six exercise tips to help you protect your knees from injuries.
Wear the Right Shoes and Brace During Exercise
Shockingly, your shoes can play a huge part in protecting your knees from injuries. You should get your exercise shoes properly fitted at a running or walking store, as they can help you identify problems with your gait. They are trained to identify whether your feet roll inward as you walk (overpronate) or outward (under pronate), both of which can lead to unnecessary strain on your knees.
It is recommended that you replace your exercise shoes every 3 months, as worn-out shoes can lead to higher injury rates and pain.
If you do suffer from a knee injury, or if you have suffered from one in the past, look into getting a proper knee brace for exercise. Medical knee braces help stabilize and provide support for the kneecap along with taking the strain off the muscles in and around the knee.
If you suffer from knee pain but aren’t injured, get a knee sleeve. Knee sleeves are not actual braces, but they provide basic support and compression to the knee, reducing inflammation and pain.
Stay Away from High Impact Exercises
If you are worried about knee injuries, you stay away from high-impact exercises. Any exercises that involve having both feet off the ground at the same time are high impact. Plyometrics, jumping rope, and box jumps, are all high impact exercises. While they are known to be more intense and burn more calories, they are jarring to the joints – leading to more injuries.
Instead, fill your workout routine with low impact exercises. The elliptical or stationary bike are low impact, same for hiking and swimming. Low impact exercises can be as intense as their counterparts but are without the higher threat of injury.
Have a Proper Warm-up
Always be sure to properly warm up your muscles prior to exercising. To prevent knee injuries, you want to perform light cardio to get your body warm and make sure to take care of your sore body parts first, which you can do if you go to for-knees.com. Riding a stationary bike for 5-minutes or walking briskly for 2 is a good warm up.
After your body is warm, work out and stretch the muscles around your knee: the hamstrings, quadriceps, calves, abductors, and adductors. To stretch these, do simple leg raises on your back and on your stomach. Additionally, do leg swings while holding onto the back of the chair for the abductors and adductors.
Once your heart rate is up and your muscles feel loose and prepared, start your exercise routine.
Choosing the Right Intensity Level
Big changes in exercise intensity can lead to injuries. In fact, switching from a low to a high intensity as well as a high to low intensity increases your chances of injury. Anytime you quickly go from low to high intensity exercises puts strain on your joints. Quickly changing from a high to low intensity can lead to muscle weakening.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change intensity levels during a workout, you just have to take it slow. Change the exercise intensity gradually to prevent joint injuries.
Weight Train to Protect from Injury
Weight training can be intimidating to beginners but is vital to healthy joints. Keep your lower body strong, thus preventing injuries, through body weight or free weight training.
If free weights are too heavy or intimidating, start strength training with your body weight. Body weight exercises still build strength and allows you practice good form, which is also vital to preventing injuries.
Many exercises can strengthen your lower body, like deadlifts, backward lunges, squats, and leg raises. If your body weight isn’t cutting it and you are confident in your form, move up to free weights. Always remember to have a spotter for support when you try heavier weights for the first time.
Strengthen Your Core
Ask any body builder, sports coach, or seasoned athlete what the most important part of your body to strengthen – your core. The core, which is your abdominal and lower back area, is your body’s foundation. If you have a weak core, you are more likely to suffer from devastating injuries and pain.
Protect your knees from stress injuries by building a strong core. Holding planks have been the tried and true method to core strength and require little space. To do a proper plank, get into a pushup position, with your forearms resting on the ground. Keeping your hips parallel to the floor, hold this position as long as you can. If planks on your forearms are too easy, hold the plank with your hands braced on the floor, instead of your forearms.