Knee pain is commonplace with just about everyone: athletes, weekend warriors and regular Joes. Why? Reasons abound: wearing high heels or unsupportive shoes, not being able to maintain a healthy weight, a high volume of any exercise, and—most important—many people are just weak.
This challenge will help you build the knee (and leg) strength you need to lessen knee pain. The moves will blast your lower body with squats, deadlifts and lunges, oh my! Did you know that strengthening your booty can improve the health of your knees, and reduce knee pain?
So my challenge to you this month is to strengthen your backside in order to help your knees stay or get healthy. Guess what’s the byproduct of this challenge? Yup, a stronger and firmer backside!
Before we get started, I need you to stop wearing poorly designed shoes. I would also like you to maintain a healthy weight, or be putting forth the effort towards that goal. That leaves us with getting you stronger, and improving the mobility of your body.
Getting you strong, in my opinion, is the best thing I can do for you.
As we age, our bones become brittle, ligaments and tendons get weak, and we start to lose muscle mass. Strength training slows this whole process down. Muscles are the engines that move our bodies; if you are unable to move, life gets pretty darn grim. You need to bank muscle for 15-30 years down the road so you can live a healthy and functional life.
Before You Get Started
For this challenge, you will need a foam roller and tennis or lacrosse ball. Increasing your hip and ankle mobility is a must during this challenge. I know this can sound counterintuitive, but other areas of your body (aside from your knees) can contribute to knee pain. You’ll want to target your quadriceps (front of the thighs), IT band (side of the thighs), hamstrings (back of the thighs) and calves (back of the lower legs). Spend 10 minutes, 3-4 days a week on mobility exercises, and you will start feeling and moving better.
New to foam rolling? Check out these videos:
The second part of this challenge is to strengthen your posterior chain. These exercises need to be done three times a week. If you are already doing a strength-training program, replace leg exercises with the ones that are prescribed here. The exercise selection is small intentionally—you want you to master the moves and watch your progression.
I picked these exercises because our entire body works together as a whole, so when you strength train, you need to use exercises that engage the entire body, like a squat or deadlift. These exercises use the lion’s share of your muscle mass, and that is how you build strength. A side benefit of squats, deadlifts and lunges: they strengthen all of the muscles in your posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings and adductors. This group of muscles stabilizes your knees, and will decrease your risk of knee injuries.