Fitness Running

5 Knee Strengthening Exercises to Prevent Injury

Knee pain affects many runners, sometimes causing seasoned racers and newbie joggers alike to sit out on their training. But it doesn’t have to keep you from catching miles! Often times, knee pain crops up due to weak muscles surrounding your knees. That’s why incorporating lower-body strength training into your weekly schedule is important for not only faster, more powerful miles, but also fewer knee issues.

“Muscles around the knees need to be strong to support the knees,” Simone Tchouke, a NASM-certified personal trainer, tells Runner’s World. “So glutes, hamstrings, calves, and quadriceps play a very important role in preventing knee injuries and pain.”

How to do it: Perform 3 to 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps of each exercise. Rest as needed.

Dumbbell Step-Up With Knee Drive

Stand with feet hip-width apart in front of and facing a step, box, or bench. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, hands at your sides. Step up with right foot onto box, then drive the left knee up toward your chest so hip and knee form a 90-degree angle. Return to starting position. Repeat. Then switch sides.

Single-Leg Box Step-Down

Stand with left foot firmly on a step, box, or bench, and right foot on the edge, arms straight out in front of you at shoulder height. Bend left knee and lower right foot straight down off box and onto the floor. Then without using right foot to push off the ground, stand up again by pushing left foot into the box and extending left leg. Repeat. Then switch sides.

Forward Lunge With Dumbbell

Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in right hand, hands at your sides. Step forward with right foot while keeping left foot in place. Bend both knees, creating a 90-degree angle with each. Keep your right knee behind right toes and tracking with the first two toes. From the side, the angle of your shin and your back should form parallel lines. Be sure to keep core engaged and chest lifted the entire time. Once both knees are bent 90 degrees, and left back knee hovers just above floor, push off through right heel and step back to standing. Repeat. Then switch sides.

Prone Leg Curl With Dumbbell

Lie facedown, legs straight and head resting on hands. Hold a single dumbbell vertically between both feet. Engage glutes to activate legs. Bend both knees and pull heels toward glutes, squeezing glutes and hamstrings the entire time. Pause for a moment at the top. Then lower feet to starting position, making sure you’re still squeezing glutes and hamstrings. Repeat.

Forearm Side Plank With Clamshell

Start lying on your left side with your left forearm on the ground and your right hand on your hip. Bend both knees 90 degrees and hips about 45 degrees. Stack hips, knees, and feet on top of each other. Then lift hips as high as you can, creating a straight line from shoulders to hips for a modified side plank. Raise your top (right) leg as high as you can, keeping it bent and rotating through the right hip to lift knee toward ceiling. Glutes should engage. Lower leg back down, but stay in plank position. Repeat. Then switch sides.

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