The knees support roughly 80% of your bodyweight. Whether you are standing, walking, jumping, running, or lifting weights, you are consistently putting stress on your knees. This explains why so many people (1 in 5) experience knee pain at some point in life. While many people with knee pain believe that the best thing to do is nothing at all, it has actually been proven that keeping the joint(s) mobile is the best thing for rehabilitation.
What is one thing that we know is good for us, but may not necessarily do all the time? If your answer was, “Eat vegetables,” we are thrilled, but that is not the answer we were looking for. “Stretching” is the correct answer. Stretching is an excellent way to help improve mobility, relieve muscle pain, and a great way to keep your joints healthy.
When it comes to stretching, however, many people stretch incorrectly. A lot of people stretch too quickly, often times bouncing to “increase the stretch.” Sometimes people just end up stretching the wrong area of the body altogether. Stretching the knees, and legs for that matter, requires your back to be straight and immobile.
Stretch Your Calves:
If you have tight calves, it can lead to inward knee movement, which can cause pain. The standing calf stretch is very easy to do and can help prevent knee pain. Place the balls of your feet on the edge of a stair, small ledge, or curb and let your heels drop below the step. Hold this for 30 seconds and rest before repeating.
The hamstrings run from your hips to your knees, so keeping them flexible can reduce knee pain. The common mistake, when it comes to a hamstring stretch, is to bend down and touch your toes. That stretches your back and other leg muscles more than anything. It is best to lie on your back in front of a doorway. Lay one leg through the doorway and raise the other leg up the wall; your butt should be touching the wall. Loop a belt or tension band around the ball of your foot and pull down. Stay there for 10-15 slow breaths before repeating on the other leg.
The Stretch To Make Your Knees Feel Younger:
Sit on a chair or couch. Start by folding a dishtowel in half and place it directly behind one of your knees, trying to get it as high up into the joint as possible. Put your heel on the edge of a chair and slowly contract your calf and hamstring. Repeat this on the other side. This exercise works to open up space in the knee, allowing better circulation in the joint and a decreased risk of joint inflammation.