Cranky knee bumming you out?
Time to fight back. Knee pain often impacts active people who engage in high volumes of training or spend many hours playing sports.
“One of the more common complaints we see from the athletes we work with is anterior knee pain—knee pain on the front of that knee,” says Ryan Summers, DPT and co-owner of Pure Physio (Strongsville, OH). “This can be caused by high-volume running, jumping, whatever type of movement.”
Summers shares three of Pure Physio’s favorite exercises for addressing anterior knee pain:
1. Slide Board Single-Leg Squat
The slant board isn’t essential here, but it does increase the effectiveness of the exercise by shifting more load to the front of the knee joint.
“If we’re treating this like a tendonitis or a tendinopathy, that’s going to respond really well to load,” says Summers.
With your torso tall and standing on one leg, bend at the knee to come into a Single-Leg Squat. Aim for a 3-second lower or “eccentric” and a 3-second raise or “concentric.”
“We’re allowed to have a little bit of pain with this, but we want to keep it below a 3 or 4 out of 10 and we want it to improve as you work through the reps,’ says Summers.
Perform 3 sets of 5-6 reps on each side, then a fourth set only on the side experiencing more pain or discomfort.
2. Single-Leg RDL
“For something like this where we’re having a lot of forces on the front of the knee because of all those different types of load, we want to make sure we’re keeping those forces balanced and keeping those muscles strong on the back side, as well,” says Summers.
Remember that this is a “hinge” movement and that you ideally want a nice straight line from your head to the elevated heel at the top of the movement. Maintain a slight knee bend of 20-30 degrees on the planted leg. Think about feeling this in the muscles on the back side of your leg as you perform your repetitions.
Aim for 3 sets of 8 reps with an extra set on the side experiencing greater pain or discomfort.
3. Lateral Toe Tap
This exercise requires a mini band around your feet. You can perform it with a kettlebell or dumbbell held in a goblet position or just your own body weight.
“For this, we’re going to load that leg isometrically. So we’re not going to be going up and down, but we’re going to go into a little bit of knee bend, then we’re taking that opposite leg in and out,” says Summers. “(We’re hitting) the opposite side by working the glutes, but we’re also loading the involved side here, that standing leg, as he resists that internal rotation and adduction collapsing in.”
Maintain a slight knee bend in both legs and merely tap the toe of the moving leg onto the ground as you move from one rep to the next.
Perform 3 sets of 8-10 lifts on each side, performing a fourth set on the side experiencing greater pain or discomfort.
Photo Credit: skynesher/iStock