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love your lunges (and your knees will love you)
Yes, as holistic massage therapists there is plenty we can do to stretch, lengthen and mobilise the muscles around the knee joints, but when it comes to injury prevention then it all comes down to strengthening and then, I’m afraid, it’s back over to you. Like it or loathe it, it’s lunge time.
When performed correctly, lunges not only strengthen the quadriceps but also the glutes and the supporting muscles that work together to protect the knee. These muscles are the ones that can be easily neglected as we build strength through repetitive exercises such as running or cycling. The key to achieving real progress good technique. As you lunge, make sure that the knee tracks in a straight line over the toes. Peter at Grange Physio has created some great videos demonstrating lunge technique and other fantastic strengthening exercises so take a look for how to do these with good alignment. If you’re able to fit a few sets of these into your day then it won’t be long before you see a marked improvement in your knee strength and durability.
Five tips for maintaining knee health
Alongside your lunges, there’s lots of other things you can do to look after your knees. Here’s a few simple tips for good knee health.
1. If you plan on taking up a new sport or regimen then don’t rush into it too quickly. Build up gradually and always focus on your technique.
2. Cramping your knees for long periods of time isn’t great news either. Knees need movement to remain healthy so keep them active and avoid kneeling for long periods without using cushions or pads.
3. Posture can be a factor, as can bearing too much weight on the knees or lifting incorrectly so check in with your body use throughout the day.
4. Patience is important too. When you’re recovering from injury it’s tempting to get back to your old routine, but rushing back before a knee is properly healed will is never a good plan. The last thing you want is to end up back at square one.
5. Lastly happy feet mean happy knees. Think ropy old trainers you’ve been running in for years or flip-flops on long walks. Both not ideal footwear options.
If you do need to rest after injury then make the commitment to your knees and embrace the lunge. They soon get much easier and it won’t be long before you return to your sport feeling stronger, more stable and ultimately less prone to injury. Better still, when it comes to your next massage we’ll be able to concentrate on deep relaxation and muscle lengthening. Put it that way and a few lunges don’t sound so bad after all do they?