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Five exercises to strengthen your knees for running
If you are a regular runner or are just getting started, strengthening your knees is essential if you want to avoid injury and keep smashing your personal bests. You need to build up the parts of your legs that support them, too. James Lee, one of Beyond Health’s expert physios, has created a straightforward exercise routine you can do at home or in the gym to improve your lower limb strength. Make these exercises part of your regular fitness regime and you’ll feel the difference before, during and after you hit the road…
Single leg glute bridge
The aim here is to build muscle strength in the glute muscles, which are responsible for control and power when running. Strengthening the muscles above the knee is important because a lack of control from above can contribute to anterior knee pain. Do three sets (eight to 12 repetitions) on each side.
Hamstring bridge on forefoot
This exercise focuses on co-contraction of calf, hamstring and glute muscles, mimicking the demands of running and asking the muscles to work together rather than in isolation. This can be performed as an isometric hold or in repetition.
The calf muscle group are seriously important for lower limb function and even more so for running and knee health. They help improve control from the ground up (a lack of control is often a contributing factor in patellofemoral pain) and are even more important in dealing with ground reaction forces in running. Don’t neglect this muscle group if you are a runner! Perform on one leg with the knee straight and/or bent for three to four sets, 12-15 repetitions.
Side lying hip abduction against the wall
This exercise focuses on the lateral hip muscles/glutes that are responsible for control and stability around the pelvis and below the knee. This improves the control of hip internal rotation which can influence the patellofemoral joints if they are not well conditioned. For each leg repeat three sets of 12 to 15 reps or until you fatigue.
Split squat isometric hold
It is important for running and avoiding patellofemoral pain to work the quadriceps muscles where comfortable. Knee dominant exercises can sometimes be sore, especially when bending and straightening the knee to its limit (end range). This split squat hold finds a comfortable range of motion, often at around 30-60 degrees of knee bend and works the muscles around the knee without provoking the joint. Hold this for 20 to 45 seconds on each leg, three to five repetitions.
If you do start to feel discomfort when running, do not try and push through the pain. Getting an accurate diagnosis followed by a personalised treatment programme is vital for your long-term health and fitness – contact Beyond health to book a consultation at our clinic in Parsons Green, London
Please note these exercises have been designed for beginners and experienced athletes alike. However, if you experience discomfort in your lower limbs or associated areas of your body while attempting them, please do not continue. If you do feel pain at any point, we would also encourage you to book an assessment with a member of our physiotherapy team to rule out any risk of injury and to devise a personalised strategy for maintaining your lower limb health.