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Have you given thought to the amount of wear and tear that an average knee undergoes for an adult? Climbing stairs, bending, running and athletics - all of these take a toll on the delicate knee joint. Athletes and pregnant women need to take special care of their knees with suitable knee strengthening exercise. Maintaining a healthy body weight is vital for keeping your joints especially knees in good condition. Shedding off a few extra pounds will go a long way in reducing the pressure on the knee joint. Include a few simple knee exercises into your fitness regimen.
The knee joint is made up of 4 crucial ligament groups:
Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL)
Posterior cruciate ligament (PCL)
Medial collateral ligament (MCL)
Lateral collateral ligament (LCL)
The ACL and MCL are more prone to injury and account for most knee problems. Knee ailments are noticed more often among women than men. While many a time this is attributed to onset of osteoarthritis, it may have to do with physical activity levels too. Studies have noticed that older people have significantly thinner overall knee cartilage. But this age-related thinning was more pronounced in the case of women.
One possible reason could be the effect of hormones on cartilage cell synthesis. Another observation was that quadriceps-muscle size in men reduced at a much slower rate for older men as compared to older women. It has also been seen that there are higher instances of ACL injuries among women athletes as compared to men athletes. The pressure on the knee joint is increased in women who don't bend their knees when landing from a jump. Women also turn and pivot in a more erect position, which also strains the ACL. An important tip is to learn to bend at the knees and hips so as to reduce the stress on the ACL.
Knee exercise program
The right kind of exercise has shown benefits to joints damaged by osteoarthritis. It can also boost overall fitness levels. The right workout for joints such as knee exercises can improve the motion of the joint, reduce stiffness and prevent further damage. A gentle warming up is the key to avoiding many knee injuries while working out. The purpose of any warm-up or exercise program is to improve performance and help prevent serious injuries. Build your stamina gradually. Challenge your body but do not push it too hard. Knee strengthening exercises will improve muscle strength in the thigh and stomach muscles. Once you are comfortable, you can gradually use weights too.
Hamstring Stretch: Lie or sit with your knees bent to about 10 degrees. Pull your heel into the floor and tighten the muscles of the back of the thighs. Hold for about 7 seconds and relax. Repeat this knee exercise 10 times for both knees.
Lunge - Stand with your feet together and your back straight. With your hands on your hips, take a large step forward. Bend both the knees such that the front shin is in a straight line with the ankle. The back knee should be nearly on the floor. Slowly position yourself back to standing posture by pushing your front foot up. Remain steady throughout this knee exercise. Repeat with the other leg.
Quadriceps stretch: Stand a little away from a wall and place left hand on the wall for support. Grasp the top of the left foot with the right hand. Pull heel toward you. Hold for about 15 seconds. Repeat with other leg.
Knee strengthening exercise
It is essential to include some knee strengthening exercises into your fitness regimen. Knee strengthening exercises will go a long way in improving muscle control and joint motion and stability. Consult your physician before you embark on any fitness exercise program. Those who are recovering from knee surgery will be put on a knee strengthening exercise program to help the knee regain its strength. But this requires specific exercises that require the guidance of a physical therapist.