Fitness “hinges” on your knees

13757790-female-knee-pain-credited2Or “on your knobs.” This phrase is borrowed from an article on knees sent to me by good friend and client Karen, whose daughter sent it to her. The article appeared in the women’s fitness mag Oxygen. It offers great insight into and advice about knees, a common fitness/mobility nemesis for many of us. Helpful summary points:

♦  Make proper form priority one.  Sorry, I know my clients are sick of hearing this, but it bears repeating nonetheless. You do not need to cut squats and lunges from your routine (heavens no!) but you do need to check your form, face a mirror, go slow, and take care that your knee tracks over your ankle when you bend it. Correct alignment is to exercise as good posture is to ballroom dancing! Which leads me to the next bullet…

♦  Downsize your heels.   According to a 2012 study in Gait & Posture, women who wore nearly 4-inch high-heels placed almost 40 percent more stress on the front of their knees than those in 2.5 -inch heels. Protect your knees, ladies!


♦  Know that simply being a woman boosts your risk of injury.  Why?  Because women have a larger Q-angle (see picture at right) than men, owing to a tendency toward wider hips. The wider your Q-angle, the more your quads tug at the kneecap.

♦  Maintain a healthy weight to reduce your risk of knee pain.  If you weigh 130 lbs, your knees are loaded with up to 400 lbs of pressure…. But if you weigh 200 lbs, that amount shoots up to 600 lbs, and the stress on knees from daily activities can break them down much sooner.

♦  When doing jumping exercises, be sure to bend at your knees and hips when you land and make sure your torso is more upright than leaning forward. Proper form keeps your entire kinetic chain strong, including knees.

♦  Do balance training.  Squats on a Bosu ball anyone? How about standing on one foot, or doing single-leg deadlifts with a kettlebell? Such moves will strengthen stabilizing muscles in your hips and core, which will help your knees track properly in other activities like biking and running.

♦  Have someone who knows what they’re doing fit you for shoes.  And don’t forget to replace your running shoes at LEAST every 6 months or 500 miles.


Simply being a woman boosts your risk of knee injury.

♦  Take a few minutes to stretch the muscles around your knee joint—calves, hamstrings, and quads.  Tightness in these muscles may increase stress on knees and contribute to injuries. Ease into new exercises to allow your knees to adapt.

♦  When starting out, or starting again after an injury, use your body weight as resistance before adding weight.  A personal trainer can be valuable in progressing you while preventing injury.

♦  Cross-train and combine high-impact (e.g., running) with low-impact (e.g., cycling, elliptical) activities in a single workout.  Even 45-60 minutes of high-impact may be too much for knees—and they WILL let you know.

In sum, many knee problems can be prevented with common sense and expert guidance. Work with a personal trainer or physical therapist to keep or reclaim an active lifestyle.

Keep moving – Jen

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