Regularly performing exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joint help reduce painful knee symptoms caused by arthritis and may significantly slow down progression of the disease. The squat is a great compound movement that does exactly this by toning up the front thigh muscles (quadriceps), back thigh muscles (hamstrings), and glutes. Because it exercises so many large muscle groups, the squat has even been called the King of all Exercises.
Here’s how to perform the squat safely to maximize your gains and minimize risk of injury:
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Bend at the knees slowly while keeping your back straight until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds and then straighten your legs to come back to the starting position. Make sure your knees do not move in front of your toes at any point during the movement.
You can try the following variations if you have an injured back or knee and experience pain while squatting:
- Wall squats: Start by positioning yourself in squat position with your legs bent and back flat against a wall. Straighten your legs to raise your torso while sliding your back along the wall. Once your legs are fully extended, you can lower the yourself to the initial squatting position and repeat the movement. Remember to keep your back flat against the wall during the entire movement.
- Chair squats: Stand in front of a chair with feet shoulder-width apart. Keeping your core tight and back straight, slowly lower yourself to sit down on the chair. Your knees must never move in front of your toes during the movement. Once seated, slowly stand up again.
Try to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions initially. Once this becomes easy, you could try to hold a pair of light dumbbells in each hand to increase the intensity of your workout to further optimize knee function.
Make squats a regular part of your workout routine and in a few weeks, you should notice a marked improvement in knee mobility and strength.
Of note, its best to check with your doctor before starting a new workout routine, especially if you are experiencing bone and joint pain.
The physicians of The Carrell Clinic™ are committed to providing the highest level of orthopedic care in Frisco & Dallas, Texas. Book an appointment with us today.