A severe knee injury can end an athlete’s season or career in an instant. For the non-athlete, a knee injury can lead to long periods of pain and discomfort.
When training others, two major areas of concern target knee strength and safety. There’s been a huge rise in ACL and MCL tears in athletes, both male and female over the last 10 years. There’s a ton of theories as to why this is, but I feel that lack of strength in the muscles surrounding the knee, especially the VMO (vastus medialis oblique, located right next to your knee cap) as well as bad form could be issue that needs to be addressed.
Another problem is that most athletes are taught to squat and have the knees travel way out in front of the toes. This can cause huge problems for a lot of people.
While weight training in general can help strengthen the knee, there are some specific exercises that can be used to prevent injuries by targeting the muscles, which support the knee joint.
1. TKE’s (Terminal Knee Extensions)
TKEs are an excellent movement to stabilize, strengthen, and rehab the knee. These will help strengthen the VMO and can serve as a tremendous warm-up for the knees.
TKEs are extremely easy to do: simply choke a band around one of the uprights of your rack, and loop the other end around the back of your knee. Walk back a bit; the band should be pulling your leg forward. Keep your heel on the floor and simply flex and extend your knee.
Really squeeze the quads at the top and hold it for 2 – 3 seconds on each rep.
This is definitely a high rep movement…shoot for 20 reps per leg for 2 – 3 sets. They fit in well right before your heavy leg exercises or at the end of the session as a way to flush blood into the area.
The fact is that many athletes have a problem with their knees drifting inward while squatting. This causes a major strength leakage and can cause a multitude of injuries.
I’ve noticed this also happens in the average, out of shape person when they are getting up out of a chair.
Strengthening the adductors can help solve this problem.
These two exercises will help, but it’s really up to you to take care of your knees. Stay focused, train smart. One rule of thumb, if an exercise causes joint pain, don’t do it! There are ways to improve without hurting yourself more. #BeSmart