Strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee and hip joints to train harder, run better and lift more efficiently.
No matter where you land on the fitness spectrum, there is always risk of a knee injury that will derail your progress. Unfortunately, knee injuries can plague just about anyone — from beginners to seasoned gym-goers and elite runners.
Physically active people are at risk for knee injuries mainly resulting from overuse and improper running or lifting techniques, as well as direct trauma to the joint.
Overuse injuries are often seen in runners who fail to cross-train or who have biomechanical problems. Improper lifting techniques can put uneven forces on your knees, making you susceptible to injuries. And direct trauma to the joint is most likely the result of a work-related incident, a vehicular collision or an accident while playing a sport that requires quick and sudden changes in direction, like basketball, football or hockey.
Although sporting accidents causing trauma to the knee joint can be unavoidable, overuse injuries are preventable. At the very least, there are exercises you can do that will mitigate your risk. The longer you can remain injury-free, the better results you will achieve.
Strengthening your glutes, hamstrings and quadriceps will help prevent knee injuries. The gluteus medius plays a very important role in stabilizing your hips and preventing unnecessary internal rotation of the knee, especially during weight-bearing activities. And if your hamstrings are too weak relative to your quads, you are also more likely to get injured because this causes imbalanced forces to act upon your knee.
The good news: There are five simple moves that will help strengthen the muscles surrounding your knee and hip joints, allowing you to train harder, run better and lift more efficiently.
The clamshell helps strengthen your gluteus medius.
To perform the clamshell, lie down on your side. Then bend both your legs at the knees. While keeping your legs bent and your feet together, activate your gluteus medius as you lift up your top leg. It’s important to do the same number of repetitions on each side. In order to make the move more challenging, add an elastic band around your knees.
2. Side Leg Lift
This move is performed almost like the clamshell, except your top leg is straight while your bottom leg is slightly bent. Lie down on your side and make sure that both your hips and both shoulders are directly underneath each other. While engaging your gluteus medius, lift your top leg up toward the sky. Lift it high enough to be able to engage your glutes while maintaining proper form. However, there is no need to lift it super high.
If you would like to challenge yourself, hold your top leg for three to five seconds in the “up” position before bringing it down to start your next repetition. Again, you should do the same number of repetitions on each side.
3. Glute Bridge
The glute bridge works your glutes, hamstrings and core.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Place your feet firmly on the floor. Engage your glutes and core as you lift your hips up off the floor. Hold the “up” position for a few seconds before bringing your hips back down to start another repetition. If you would like to further challenge yourself, place a barbell on top of your hips to add resistance.
4. Resistance-Band Squat
Resistance-band squats primarily target your glutes, as well as your quads.
Place a band around both your legs, just above your knees. You should feel resistance from the elastic band as you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Descend into a squat position while pushing your legs outward to keep your knees from going inward as you squat. As you come down, make sure that your knees don’t go too far forward over your toes.
5. Ball Hamstring Curl
Ball hamstring curls target your hamstrings, core and glutes.
Lie on your back with your heels on an exercise ball. Using your arms at your sides for balance, engage your core and glutes as you lift your hips off the floor. While your hips are in the air, contract your hamstrings as you pull the ball toward you with your feet. In order to make this exercise more challenging, try doing single-legged ball hamstring curls. If you are doing single-legged repetitions, be sure to do the same number for each leg.
The number of repetitions you perform for each of the above exercises will depend on your fitness level. Beginners should attempt to do three sets of 10 repetitions. As you get more advanced, you will be able to do more repetitions as well as gradually increase the difficulty of each exercise.
When you strengthen your posterior chain, you will decrease your risk for injury, which will make you a better lifter and runner. The longer you remain injury-free, the better your results will be.
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Properly identifying the pain and symptoms can help you assess the next steps with your workout routine.
If you’ve spent enough time in a gym, you’ve probably heard many pain-centric mottos from trainers and fellow gym-goers: “No pain, no gain.” “If it’s not hurting, it’s not working.” “Pain is temporary, quitting is forever.”
But what if that pain you’re suffering from is more than just a nagging soreness or discomfort? What if it’s actually an injury?
“While exercising strengthens and tones the body and allows for the muscles to get stronger and firmer, it also applies an immense pressure that can easily lead to injury,” says Dr. Armin Tehrany, founder of Manhattan Orthopedic Care and honorary surgeon for the New York Police Department. “It’s important to understand your body’s limitations in order to prevent injury and grow stronger.”
Signs and Symptoms
Start the process by discerning what constitutes “good” versus “bad” pain. Tehrany says good pain can be described as a general level of discomfort during your workout and 24 to 48 hours postworkout, so long as you are putting in the effort. However, if you are feeling pain or soreness while resting or an overwhelming level of soreness after 72 hours, to the point that you are questioning whether you should work out again, you should see your doctor.
Your experience undoubtedly will vary depending on the part of the body in question, but it could look something like this:
Knees: The knee is one of the largest joints in the body and faces near-constant activity, which means it can easily be at risk for injury without the proper precautionary methods. Some signs you need an expert to evaluate your knee, according to Tehrany, include significant localized pain on the top or bottom of the knee that is causing you discomfort and/or preventing you from walking or standing as part of your daily routine.
Shoulders: Common, repetitive motions, like overhead lifting or throwing, can lead to shoulder issues. If you feel your shoulder area “popping” during certain workouts and/or if you find that you can’t lift your arm above your head without pain, Tehrany advises seeing a doctor.
Muscles: When it comes to muscle strains in the back, arms and legs, it’s important to notice whether you are feeling overwhelming pain in any of these areas during your workout. If your muscle pain is slowing you down during a workout, you may have strained the muscle or even suffered a muscle overuse injury. Ensuring you are properly warmed up before exercising can help prevent certain strains, Tehrany says. Though it is also important to keep in mind many other factors like workout intensity, your body’s limitations and making sure you have the correct form.
Depending on your specific level of soreness or injury, Tehrany recommends the following self-care:
Active rest. Don’t just sit on the couch and pout — yoga may provide the relief you’re looking for. “Yoga helps the body achieve active recovery from soreness or muscle pain by helping stretch the areas where you feel discomfort, releasing tension and providing you with relief from aches and pains,” he says. “As a result, your body will feel energized and you will feel increased mobility overall.” Yoga is also known to help your body achieve an improved balance, which can, in turn, help improve your workout technique to avoid future muscle strain or injury.
Actual rest. While this may include some downtime catching up on Netflix, make sure you aren’t binging all night long — getting a good night’s sleep is essential for restoring the body. “When your body enters the non-REM or deep sleep stage, your body is working on stimulating tissue growth and muscle repair,” he says. “If someone’s sleep patterns frequently change or if their quality of sleep is hindered, their body may not recover from muscle pain or injury as well as someone who has a regulated sleep pattern.” Lack of sleep also can lead to the loss of muscle mass in general, which can ultimately affect how you perform in the gym.
Hydration. Postworkout recovery is as important as the workout itself. Proper postworkout hydration helps your body digest the nutrients it needs to repair muscle damage. If you are dehydrated after a workout, your muscles will not break down and rebuild (or get stronger) as successfully as someone who is properly hydrated. Also, dehydration causes fatigue, which will make you work harder in the gym and can lead to an overuse injury in the long run.
First aid. Finally, you must protect the strained or injured part of your body from further injury. This can mean icing, compressing and even elevating the injured part of your body during your rest period.
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Let’s get to talking about a part of our body that is often neglected — our glutes! Courtney Wyckoff of Momma Strong is supercharged about women firing up their entire glutes (especially that gluteus medius) in this fun, chatty and oh-so-i nformative episode. Courtney began her journey after giving birth to her second child. During that time, she experienced depression while struggling to get her body back in shape despite her background in Pilates and personal training. It was then that she turned to exercises focusing on extension versus flexion — and that brought her the “aha moment” that changed …
The post Podcast Ep 77: Glutes, Glutes and More Glutes with Courtney Wyckoff of Momma Strong appeared first on Fit Bottomed Girls.
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