The knees are one of the highest impact areas of a runners body and it is therefore vital to undertaken knee strengthening exercises to help protect the muscles from wear and tear that comes about through constant running. As with any form of strengthening exercises though it is important to remember to intermix stretching exercises to prevent over tightness of the muscles.
Equally as important though is to remember not to overdo the knee strengthening exercises. A small amount of pain will show that micro-tears are occurring enabling the muscles to become bigger and stronger, these tears though do need time to heal, so exercises should not be undertaken on consecutive days.
Muscles that Support the Knee
Knee strengthening exercises for running will focus mainly on the hamstrings and quadriceps, although it is important not to forget the calf muscles and hip abductors which also help support the knee. Focusing on one group of muscles and ignoring the rest will cause muscle imbalance which will cause knee problems in itself.
There are many exercises that have been developed to assist runners with knee strengthening although the list below highlights five of the most basic.
Exercises To Strengthen Knees for Running
1. Balancing – Knee strengthen can be developed through simple balancing exercises. This can be achieved through the use of a chair for support, and then simply balancing on alternate legs, ensuring that the body’s weight doesn’t shift to one side.
2. Quadriceps Strengthening through Contractions – Sitting on a chair, you should extend your legs so that the heels are on the ground. Then as you keep your knees straight you should tighten your thigh muscles. As you are doing this count up to ten, and then relax for a three count before repeating again. Start with just a few repetitions and then increase the number over time.
3. Quadriceps Strengthening through Leg Lifts – Lie on you back, with right knee bent to a right angle, ensuring that your right foot stays flat on the ground. Then keeping the left leg straight raise it until it is level with the right knee. Hold the position for three seconds and then undertake nine further repetitions, alternating legs as appropriate.
Video Demonstration of Knees Strengthening Exercise
4. Hamstring Strengthening through Contractions – Sit down on a chair so that your heels are on the ground. Then without moving the heels gently pull back on them, you should be able to feel a build up of tension in your hamstrings. As you are doing this count up to ten, and then relax for a three count before repeating again. Start with just a few repetitions and then increase the number over time.
5. Hamstring Strengthening through Curls – Curls are undertaken by lying on your stomach, and then placing the right foot onto the back of the left heel. As you pull your left heel up towards your backside, your right leg should resist. This movement will contract the hamstring, and the position should be held of a count of ten, before relaxing for a further three.