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Protect Your Knees During Weight Training

By Paula Vargas November 24, 2020

Protect Your Knees During Weight Training

Weight training is an excellent way to improve your body composition and offset muscle loss as you age. However, it needs to be done correctly so you get the full benefits, whilst minimising the probability of getting injured. Take care of your joints by eating healthy foods, not overdoing exercise and making sure that you're doing the correct form in the gym.

Is it pain from general exercise or another concern? By visiting a sports medicine doctor, you'll be able to rule out other issues like early osteoarthritis or a chronic degenerative meniscal tear. This is especially important to consider if your knee pain is persisting over time. 

Two common forms of knee pain during weight training include:

  1. Patellofemoral pain syndrome (runner’s knee) - felt in the front of the knee
  2. Iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS) - felt between the hip and knee

If you're an athlete, a senior or a woman, then you're especially at risk. 

Always remember to warm up:

You probably know it already - a warm up is crucial! Diving into your resistance training without prepping the body is fuel for disaster. Prevent yourself much trouble by warming up your joints so you can enjoy the best results possible.

  • Jump on the cardio equipment for a few minutes
  • Do bodyweight squats and lunges
  • Try incorporating the supplemental exercises below
  • Stop if you feel pain

Perfect your technique:

Focus on perfecting your technique, and consider squat and lunge variations that put less strain on the knees. For now, distribute more of the weight from the knee and quads (quadriceps) and more to the hip and glutes. Strong hips help your knees to track correctly!

To find relief, change your form.

Avoid walking lunges. Instead, go for static lunges, with more controlled movements. You can also try reverse lunges, ensuring your shin is more vertical so as to take pressure away from the knees.

Swap out full-range squats. Go for quarter or half range squats, that will stop the knee coming too far forward. Use wall squats and box squats to help you ease back into the movement.

Exercise tips:

  • Remember to active your gluteal muscles by keeping them squeezed
  • Don't lock out your knees - otherwise you'll be transferring the weight from your  muscle to your joint
  • Check your shoes out - if the movement feels better without them, then they may be too soft for you. 
  • Add in foot stability exercises
  • Work on ankle mobility if you kind it difficult to shift your weight back in the squat

Focus on getting stronger over time:

Support your knees by focusing on total lower body strength. Your legs are made up by your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves, which can help protect your knees.

Getting stronger doesn't mean lifting the most amount of weight you can straight away - this can make things worse! Instead, begin by using slower tempo bodyweight exercises or using a resistance band to help you build up the areas you need to. Focusing on the muscles surrounding the knee can help relieve the strain and pain and prevent ongoing injury.

Supplemental exercises:

  • Glute bridge  
  • Calf raises 
  • Stability ball leg curl 
  • Crab walk (with resistance band)
  • Isometric VMO (Vastus Medialis Oblique) straight leg raises

How's your flexibility and mobility?

Remember to stretch after you exercise and have dedicated time to work on your flexibility and mobility. By restoring the range of motion, it can help prevent injury. Keep your muscles flexible, long and enjoy more manageable muscle soreness after your exercising. Plus, it's a great way to unwind and relax!

A foam roller is another recovery tool that can help. f you want to take it to the next level, try a quality massage gun that can get into those sore spots. Try a trigger point release on the TFL (tensor fasciae latae) and glutes - you'll feel the pain but be grateful for it later!

If you don't already, you can enjoy many benefits by regularly doing yoga - it'll keep you youthful, strong and vital!

Look to the professionals:

Whether you're a beginner or just having consistent knee pain, consider using a personal trainer that can watch your technique and correct where necessary. Furthermore, a sports professional like a physiotherapist can also help you with specific exercises for your body, that will help you get more out of your training sessions. If you want to stay injury free, you need to prioritise your health -  even 15 minutes a day spent improving your knee joint can bring a great return on your training results!


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