Protect Your Knees - Exercises

I have bad knees. And I know I'm not alone. I believe that knees can be "bad" but you can change that! I had three knee repairs before my 19th birthday. As I ramp up any training they are the first things to complain. And they complain all the time. In the middle of the night, sitting at my desk, standing, bent, straightened...they are just whiny.

I refuse to give up running, because I love it. Sometimes it brings heartbreak but more often it brings strength and peace and I need it in my life. As a runner who has had knee repairs, and over a decade of knee issues, I've known my share of great physical therapists. Every physical therapist has told me the same thing: strengthen your hip abductors (outer) to protect your knees, wear the right shoes/orthotics and stretch.

To keep your knees healthy they must track correctly. When you do squats, run, walk or whatever. To keep them tracking right through exhaustion you have to build up the big and small muscles that protect them. My hip abductors are the weak link, and for many runners this is the case. If your hips are weak as you tire you will begin to let your hip drop, legs turn in, your knees start to look in at each other. This angle messes with your IT band (among other things), and as runners we know ... IT band = knee problems.

Here are two exercises to keep your hips strong and knees safe:

1. Hip Hike: One foot standing on something 2-4 inches up (stack of three Vogue's should do the trick). Drop the other hip, hike up, drop. Repeat 15 times 3xeach side. This is a very small movement, but you'll feel the burn in the outer hip of the leg on the book/weight/curb.

2. Side Leg Lift on the Ball: Just like it looks - lean over an exercise ball, one knee bent, one out to the side. Lift. 15 x 3 sets each side.

Perhaps this drawing from my physical therapist will help. I choose doctors based on their willingness to draw stick figures.

Happy knees to you!


  1. "I am doing a post about running at night, and what to wear so cars see you. Your awesome night pics come up a lot in Google image searches. I was wondering if I could borrow this one for the post and cite your blog?"



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