3 Lesser-Known Tips to Bulletproof Your Knees

Now that the weather is getting nicer I'm sure many of you will be doing more outdoor activities like running, slip n' slide olympics and naked beach volleyball.  And this is EXACTLY what you SHOULD be doing now that we have warmer temperatures. We also want to make sure that you're safe during full-contact badminton and your body is ready to handle these activities, especially since you work at a desk AND have been cooped up all winter.

Here are a few tips from the pros on how to bulletproof your knees:

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1. Strengthen Your Butt

If there is one thing we're passionate about at AMP Fitness it is the health and well-being of your 'ass'ets.  Yes, we are weirdly into your badonkadonk for more than a few reasons.  For the purposes of this article we will focus on their role in hip and knee function.

The fact is that many of us sit all day.  On our ass.  Which not only means we're not using those muscles but it puts it in a weakened position.  When you train or workout it only makes sense that we need to counteract that long lever of desk sitting with a plethora of booty blasting exercises to help strengthen and stabilize your whole hip complex.

When your glutes/hips remain weak and unstable your body will create stiffness at adjacent joints and areas to make up for it.  The two areas which are directly affected are 1.) your back (we'll cover this in another article) and 2.) your knees.

If you have a history of cranky knees and are tooshy-deficient, we like glute bridges, lateral band walks and side-lying clams and not to mention our favorite exercise of all time, the hip thrust (back elevated glute bridge)!  #AllAboutThatBass

Glute Bridges (with breath)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU1-Xz9yfbI

Lateral Band Walks

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmukZQzOo3s

Side-Lying Clams

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qoIEMX6PPdQ

Hip Thrusts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz9xpmEUHOA

2. STOP Rolling Directly on Your IT Band

Firstly, it is important to understand that your IT Band is actually a tendon, which is non-contractile.  This means you CAN'T stretch it.  It also means it can't shorten and become 'tight'.  Hmmmm....

So what's the deal?

Well, rolling that area isn't totally off the mark.  The IT Band starts at attachments on your pelvis, glutes, and tensor fascia latae (TFL) all the way down to your knee and overlies your lateral quadricep (vastus lateralis or VL) muscle which CAN get tight.  This can be due to weakness or instability (see #1) causing the muscles I just mentioned to become stiff.

Note: You CAN still roll your IT Band area BUT it is more productive to focus more towards the front of your leg which is your lateral quadriceps muscle (VL).  See videos below:

Vastus Lateralis (VL)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBk3mrByuZ0

Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDwtxvrsWJ4

Glutes/Piriformis

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P0Q7SS53sRE

3. Breathe!

This is hands down one of the most under appreciated bodily functions.  We do it naturally up to 30,000 times a day.  It is necessary for life.  Wait...why are we even talking about this?

Well, as you guessed, it CAN relate to knee pain.  Let me explain.

Breathing and more specifically, deep diaphragmatic breathing, is ridiculously important to core function.  And core function is ridiculously important to moving like a ninja, preventing pain, and looking damn sexy in a Speedo.

This can be a whole other article (And it will!  Pinkie swear!) but for our intents and purposes I want you to understand that lack of core 'stiffness' can create problems distally (hips, shoulders, ankles, knees and toes, knees and toes).  This is quite related to some of the things we touched on in #1 and #2.

Core stiffness needs to happen for proper alignment of, well, your whole skeletal system.  Planks and such are great but they are only a piece of the puzzle.  Your deepest core muscle, the diaphragm, is more directly related to powerful breathing which is something you CAN train.

At AMP Fitness, we have our superheroes do a few specific breathing drills pre-workout as well utilize a deep diaphragmatic during certain core exercises such as dead bugs and birddogs.  We even encourage diaphragmatic breathing during strength exercises; especially hip exercises (starting to see a connection?) like deadlifts, hip thrusts, and swings.

Crocodile Breathing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qMK3fKuExok

Deadbug

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fjdcU0BMFM

Let us know what you think and get ready for an amazeballs summer!