Staying active and healthy well into the future is made so much easier when your knees are happy. Here’s how to look after them.
‘Be kind to your knees; you’ll miss them when they’re gone,’ says one of the lines in Baz Luhrmann’s 1999 Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen) song. And it’s true – knees are easy to take for granted while they work well. Keeping them in good shape is an essential part of staying healthy – they help you hike up mountains, go dancing or stride across the countryside with your dog.
Your Daily Knee Prescription
We asked two top physios for simple but effective ways to start looking after your knees. ‘Everyday exercise such as walking builds endurance in the muscles that support your knee, but they also need strength,’ says Tim Allardyce, clinical director at Surrey Physio (surreyphysio.co.uk). ‘By targeting these muscles with the exercises below, you can help to keep your knees stable and strong.’
This targets your hamstrings (the muscles that run down the back your thigh), which are prime movers of the knee joint. They are often weaker than the quadriceps at the front of your thigh, but this imbalance can cause problems in your knees.
Lie on your back, arms by your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Raise your right foot and straighten the leg out, off the floor. Then press your left foot into the floor and lift your pelvis upwards, keeping your torso level. Hold for 1-2 seconds then lower. Do three sets of five repetitions on each leg, building up to three sets of 10 as you get stronger.
Using the wall rather than doing a normal squat isolates the quadriceps, making it easier. This muscle group does a lot of work in stabilising your knees.
Stand with your back against a wall. Slowly walk your feet out forwards and start bending your knees so that you can slide your back down the wall. Go as far as you comfortably can. Hold for about two seconds and slide back up. Do 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions.