I can’t tell you HOW MANY TIMES Chris and I have heard complaints about achy knees stopping people from getting their workouts in, and even more so, stopping them from enjoying their quality of life! Hey, I’ve been there…Chris has been there…I think we’ve all been there. In fact, as I was typing up this blog yesterday, I got a similar complaint from a work associate! THIS IS A PROBLEM!!!!
This begs two questions: 1. WHY do we all seem to suffer from achy knees? 2. WHAT can we do about it?
Here’s the deal…you are not alone. A recent speech I heard by the world-renown Dr. Jimmy Chow (who Chris and I have the pleasure of working with) enlightened me that we—meaning ALL humans—have a 98% chance of suffering from achy joints cause by arthritis (ie. inflammation of the joints) and/or tendonitis (ie. inflammation of the tendons) at some point in our lives. It’s just part of the aging process, dang it!
As we age and our bodies experience the typical wear and tear, our knees seem to take a pretty good beating to the point where even the simple task of sitting in a chair and standing can seem daunting, with pain shooting through the knees. The mere thought of working out seems crippling.
We tend to think that the only way to alleviate the joint pain we are feeling is by taking ibuprofen or some other medication given by a doctor. Luckily, there are simple fixes for knee pain that most people don’t even know about!
What are they? Two parts: Strengthening your hamstrings and stretching your quads!
Because we sit all day—in the car, at a desk, on the couch—and are getting up and down multiple times from this seated position we find ourselves in for hours every day, our bodies adapt and adjust to accommodate this unnatural position…by developing strong quads. This creates an imbalance in our lower bodies called “Quad Dominance,” which leads to unnecessary pressure on the tendons surrounding our knees and creates pain.
To alleviate the pain, we’ve got to balance out the quads by strengthening their reciprocal muscle group—the hamstrings. Simultaneously, we must stretch and elongate those bound-up tight quadriceps to reduce tension in the bound-up muscles and tendons (tendonitis).
Here are three great therapeutic moves you can do daily to accomplish the task at hand.
Hamstring Strengthening Exercise: Ball Roll-Ins
Lying on your back, place your heels up on top of a stability ball.
Squeeze your glutes and bridge your body up from your shoulders.
Keeping your body rigid from your shoulders to your heels, flex at the knees and roll the ball in toward your body as far as it will go.
These are one of the greatest accessory movements for the hamstrings!
Quad Stretch: Couch Quad Stretch
Assuming a runner’s lunge position with your back knee on the ground and front foot planted firmly, place your back foot up on top of the couch cushions.
Try your best to maintain contact between your shin and the front of the couch.
Breathing deeply, relax your muscles as much as possible while allowing your body to sink into this stretch.
Hold this stretch for 2 minutes on each side. If you need to, feel free to keep your hands planted on your front knee for balance and move your knee FARTHER away from the couch.
IT Band Stretch: Foam Rolling
It’s nearly impossible to “stretch” the IT band (which runs down the outside of your quad and is responsible for much of the quad tightness and knee pain) with traditional stretches. By foam rolling daily, you can achieve the “stretch” necessary to help reduce pain in the knees. I live and die by this move. Aim for 1-2 minutes on each side for starters.
Perform the stretches daily on each side to keep those quads loose. Perform the Ball Roll-Ins 3x a week, as we recommend for any strengthening exercise.
Looking for some gear to get you started? See below…
Andddddd….an outtake. Because Chris loves to mock me—haha!