The secrets to managing knee injuries

A big mistake people make when recovering from a knee injury is they forget to exercise other parts of the body.

It may surprise you, but a key to treating knee injuries is to address the spine. Your back has a big influence on your knee joint and its function, range, and mobility.

Key is getting the spine moving in all its planes — people tend to mainly move forwards and downwards in everyday life. For example, bending forwards is a key movement people do. It’s important to consider other lateral movements.

The following four exercises are the best for knee injuries, because they address both the spine and the knee joint.

Exercise one: Rotate the spine

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Hold your arms straight out in front of you. While keeping them horizontal, swing them around your body from one side to the other — swing them right round as far as they can go without causing you any pain.

If your body is stiff or you find it difficult, then go to your comfortable limits but do not push through pain. The more you do the exercise you will likely find the more flexible you become.

If that’s comfortable, you may turn your head in line with your arms as they swing from side to side. This will rotate your spine even further.

Here’s a video example so you can be sure.

Exercise two: Moving the spine sideways

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Stand up straight with your arms at your side, legs slightly apart. Bring your right arm up so your hand is above your head, then reach your arm over to the left as far as it can go, while leaning to your left at the same time. Your left hand should remain at your side, moving down your thigh as you stretch. Do three or four stretches and then repeat the process on your other side.

Check out this video exampl.

This is the ‘dynamic thoracic spine stretch’.

For the next two exercises, it’s best to do these while holding onto a chair or wall for stability.

Exercise three: Baby squats

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Instead of bending your knees all the way you can just bend a little. Most important, make sure this doesn’t cause knee pain.

This is an excellent exercise for the quads — one of the biggest antigravity muscles in the legs, and key to knee stability. Try and do 20 repetitions every day.

Exercise four: Calf raises

Have a chair in front of you with its back facing you. Stand up straight, and then stand on tippy toes, holding for two seconds before lowering. Recommend doing 20 reps once a day.

To build up further strength you may consider holding dumbbells, with arms at your side, while doing the raises.

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The key to overcoming your knee injury is to do the above every day. By focussing on the spine and the knee all together the knee recovers faster because the foundation is stronger.

Of course, everybody is different and if your injury is painful and it’s too difficult to do these exercises then it’s best to seek expert advice.

Do you have a knee injury? How, if at all, does it restrict you? What treatment and/or exercises work for you?