Weak in the Knees? You CAN Fix That!

As we get older, many of us complain of weakness in the knees and chronic knee pain. Many of us see this weakness as part of the normal run-of-the-mill process of aging, and basically an inevitable malady of getting older. But boy is that ever Wrong! Strength and flexibility in the knees and legs are essential to maintaining our balance, coordination and health as we age, and yes, there ARE things you can do to strengthen your knees and legs so that they can carry you solidly and firmly throughout your entire lifetime.

One thing we must remember is that the knees are only one set of joints in a system of joints that support our entire bodies. So, for example, an injury to the hips or ankles will affect the strength and condition of the knees, because the system of joints in the body is all connected. Posture is critical to the health and strength of our knees, hips and ankles, and so is muscle tone around the ligaments that keep our joints functioning optimally. In order to keep our legs and knees healthy and strong, our entire bodies must be strong and tone, and our posture must be optimal.

At Morphe, our regular Gravity Training routine includes plenty of movements and exercises that strengthen the knees, hips and ankles as well as improving overall balance and posture. Here is a list of some of the basic exercises that help to maintain optimal flexibility and strength in the knees and legs:

  1. Squats ~ these strengthen and tone hips, legs, buttocks, knees and ankles and are an essential staple in any fitness routine. Using Morphe’s Gravity Training System to do your squats on the board also allows for variations such as single-leg squats with legs crossed over knees, or ski squats which help to strengthen knees, calves and ankles and encourage improve coordination. Start with sets of 25.
  1. Jump rope: three minutes of jump rope daily not only provides cardio and fat burning but also strengthen the hips, legs, ankles and knees, encouraging flexibility and strength in these joints. Variations on jump-rope techniques strengthen different leg muscles while also aiding balance and posture, all of which help to maintain better leg and knee health throughout life.
  1. Lunges: variations on this exercise help to open the hip flexors which in turn support mobility and flexibility in the knees. Again, doing these using the glide-board that’s part of our Gravity Training System allows for many variations that strengthen and tone the calves and buttocks, supporting the legs and knees. Start with 20 on each side.
  1. Step-ups: this exercise not only builds strength and flexibility in the knees, but also enhances balance and coordination, strengthening our posture and indirectly supporting leg and knee function as we walk and go about daily activities. Using a low surface approximately 2 feet off the ground, start with 15 forward step-ups with each leg. Variations on this exercise might include extending the raised leg either in front, to the rear or to the side while stepping up.
  1. Walking: This should already be a part of everyone’s daily routine, but it won’t hurt to remind you: walk at least 30 minutes daily and if possible 1 hour daily. Try to walk on different types of terrain including concrete, grass, sand and indoor flooring to strengthen your feet, ankles, legs, knees, buttocks and hips. There is no greater exercise for building strength, balance and posture than daily walking, and your knees and legs will thank you as you grow older.

Play better, Enjoy more: Improve Your Game with Flex Training

As both an avid golf enthusiast and a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist working with all sorts of athletes for over 15 years, I can attest to the contribution that flex training can add to your golf game.  In fact, I’d like to share a story with you of one golfer who lowered his handicap from 20 to 10 in less than a years’ time by working to improve his overall balance, strength, and flexibility.

In my work with professional athletes, both targeted at improving general fitness and/or working to rehabilitate injuries, I have learned the benefits that all-around flexibility, balance and strength training can bring to an athlete’s performance. So when Victor came into my studio with the specific goal of lowering his golf handicap, I was prepared to coach him to a whole new level as a golfer.

Initially, we incorporated Ultrasound Therapy and P.N.F. (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) Stretching, a series of specialized stretching techniques commonly used by clinical therapists, to rapidly improve his overall range of motion and bring fast relief from chronic tendonitis, a problem he’d suffered with for years.

We then began working on bio-mechanic strengthening and core conditioning through Gravity Training and Kinesiology, which relieved his chronic lower back pain, a problem he attributed to his long hours of sitting at a desk during his day job.  This system also improves balance and overall flexibility while building strength in the entire body, improving rotation and general mobility, maintaining proper weight, increasing muscle tone and definition, and lengthening the spine, improving overall posture.

To that, we added Swing Fan Drills, Medicine Ball and Plyometric Workouts, a series of specialized exercises targeted specifically to improving his rotation, swing and golf performance, lowering his handicap from 20 to 10 over a period of 11 months.  We also worked to develop a series of appropriate pre and post training exercises to not only improve Victor’s overall performance on the green, but also to decrease his risk of injury and maintain his flexibility, even through his long days at the office.

Today, this enthusiastic golfer has found a renewed interest in his favorite sport. His health is greatly improved, as is his game, and he is able to enjoy playing more often, free of pain. A testament to the holistic principle of overall physical conditioning, his is just one more example of what a focused and balanced training regimen can do to benefit any athlete, from beginner, to pro, to weekend warrior.