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Sharp Health News

3 exercises to prevent knee injury

Jan. 21, 2019

3 exercises to prevent knee injury

Denise Martinez, a doctor of physical therapy at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, demonstrates an exercise to help prevent knee pain.

Warming up your knees — and all other joints nearby — before physical activity can help prevent injuries like runner's knee or torn ligaments, by activating muscles for increased flexibility and range of movement.

Other benefits of warming up before physical activity include:

  • Better form and body mechanics
  • Prevention of muscle cramps or muscle strain
  • Increased tolerance to physical activity
"By preparing your joints for physical activity, you lower the risk of knee pain and injury," explains Denise Martinez, doctor of physical therapy at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center. "This is especially true if you have a history of joint pain."

Three exercises to help prevent knee pain or injury
When exercising, make sure the knees are aligned with the toes and do not let them turn inward (knock-knees) or outward (bowlegged). These three exercises can help warm up the knees:

1. Bridges:

  • Lie on your back on a flat surface, keeping your hands at your side and knees bent with feet hip-width apart.
  • Pushing through your heels, lift your hips off the floor, keeping your weight on your heels, and your knees aligned with your toes.
  • Slowly lower your hips to the starting position, then repeat.

2. Squats:

  • Stand in front of a chair with your feet hip-width apart and knees aligned with toes.
  • Maintaining a neutral spine, and with your knees aligned with your toes, lower your glutes toward chair, but do not sit in the chair.
  • Stand up and repeat.

3. Lunges:

  • Begin standing with your feet hip-width apart and your abdominal muscles tightened, to maintain stability and keep your body upright.
  • Take one big step forward, placing the right foot on the ground with the heel first. Lean body forward so part of your weight is on the front foot. Keep your back and upper body straight and hold position for 3 seconds.
  • Lower your body until the right knee is at a 90-degree angle, making sure your upper body and back are straight and your bent knee does not pass your toes. Hold this position for 3 seconds.
  • Using the right foot, push yourself upward to return to starting position (standing with feet hip-width apart).
  • Repeat the above steps using the left foot.

"For the past few years, there has been discussion whether static stretching or dynamic mobilization is best for warming up," Martinez says. "However, we have found that warming up first with dynamic movements and ending with static stretching helps prevent injuries."

Serious signs of knee injury include the inability to bear weight, noticeable decreased range of motion, having a fever with noted redness, and pain or swelling and obvious deformities in your knee. Talk with your doctor if you experience these symptoms.

Learn more about the diagnosis and treatment of common knee pain at an upcoming Treating Knee Pain seminar, presented by Sharp HealthCare.

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