Ever jump as high as you can and notice your knees buckle? Or maybe when you squat, you lean forward at the bottom of the lift, and your heels come off the ground. Meet your nemesis: knee valgus.
Characterized by tight calves and side quad muscles, knee valgus is a condition that indicates increased risk for an ACL injury.
Here are exercises to alleviate tightness so you can play better and avoid injuries.
Roll and stretch your calves and side quad muscles, holding each tender spot (or as I call them, your “cuss-word spots”) for 30 seconds. Move the roller from side to side as if you were scrubbing a stain out of a shirt. This will not feel good, but you will break up any knots—adhesions or scar tissue in the muscle fiber—that have developed from repetitive movements.
Perform these in a circuit style for 3 or 4 rounds.
- One-Quarter-Squat Side Shuffles with resistance bands at your ankles. Having the bands at your ankles will engage the gluteus medius better than if the bands were around your knees. Perform 12 reps per side.
- Single-Leg Floor Bridge and/or Hip Thrusters. Hold at the top of the bridge for five seconds with your glutes tightened. Perform 10 reps.
- Single-Leg Pistol Squats with five-pound plates in each hand. I like to have a low bench behind me so I can sit down and slowly work my way up. Don’t rock at the bottom! Perform 10 reps per leg.
- Plank for 20 seconds. A good trick for the Plank is to clinch your glutes like you do during Hip Thrusters. If you perform a Plank properly, you should not be able to hold it longer than 20 to 30 seconds. Contract your glutes and isometrically drag your elbows and knees toward one another. Perform two sets. Rest one minute and repeat.
After your workout, stretch the same muscles you just used. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds.