Knee stability and stretching: why is it important

By Caitlynn Stone

Our knees are something that every person in society takes advantage of. They are built to hold all of our weight and they are forced to bend in ways that they are simply never meant to. The amount of force they withstand in life from sports impacts to everyday wear and tear it is a miracle there are not more injuries or arthritis cases.

Unfortunately more people are experiencing knee injuries, arthritis of the joint, or have been diagnosed with patellar femoral syndrome and many more. Now granted, once you have one of these knee complications there is no getting rid of it, but there are always ways to help scale back the pain or inflammation and even prevent another injury from occurring. By adding in a simple stability and stretching routine, it can make the world of a difference with your quality of life.

When adding in a stability routine there are things that you should consider before jumping into one on your own. Consult with your doctor – that way they can give you more insight on what to do specifically or even whether or not you need to go see a physiotherapist, especially if you have any kind of ligament tear. Just by adding a few simple exercises to your everyday routine it can help keep you up and moving well into your later years.

Keeping your knees strong and mobile, you reduce the risk of having muscle imbalances which can lead to Patellar Femoral Syndrome, arthritis, or even a dislocation of the joint. Adding in exercises such as bridges, step ups, bender ball squats, lunges, band squats, and band abduction and adduction, as well as standing on one foot and writing the ABCs with the other, are all exercises that will work your stabilizing muscles as well as your larger muscle groups (quads and hamstrings).

All of this will help to protect the stabilizer muscles due to the fact they will be housed in a strong structure.

Strength and stretching goes hand-in-hand. Just like how your knee is only as strong as you make it, your knee and muscles are only as flexible as you allow them to be. If the muscles surrounding your knee joint are constantly tight they will be pulling and possibly stressing the knee without you knowing.

By not stretching you are basically tightening your muscles to a point where they will eventually snap or let go and create more issues down the road. By doing things such as foam rolling and trigger point therapy while adding in 10 minutes of a lower body stretch routine at least three times a week you will notice a world of a difference or even experience some instant pain relief. Before doing any trigger point therapy or foam rolling be sure to attend a class on how to properly execute this form of stretching. If you have already attended a class and know how to execute it then make sure you roll out your IT band (illitotibial band).

By stretching and rolling all of these muscles it helps to release pressure from around the knee joint and it allows for muscles to get a deeper stretch in an isometric hold and gets rid of more lactic acid between the muscles. The benefit of combining both isometric stretching with trigger point is that you will be able to gain better results from the stretches themselves.

All in all with a proper stretch routine combined with a strength routine you are adding years on to your knees longevity. There are so many benefits that it is hard to list them all, but if in the long run these few things allow for you to be on your feet doing what you love, why can’t we put more effort into taking better care of our knees and cut down on the abuse that they receive? It won’t take long just 10 – 30 minutes max is all that you will need to help ward off knee replacement or the use of a walker to get around – so get up, get out and do something.

Caitlynn Stone is a personal trainer at 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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