The Real Cause of Knee Pain
You’ve probably heard the rule, “Don’t let your knees go past your toes”. Why? Because it’s really bad for your knees. Although there is some truth to that, however, in majority of cases, knee pain is accumulated from years and years of wear and tear due to bad training (or lack of training altogether).
One thing we must understand about the knee is that it is at the mercy of the hip and ankle. When they lack the mobility or strength, our bodies will compensate for it. When there are issues at the hip and ankle, the symptoms are often expressed at the knee. In addition, the fault can contribute to poor biomechanics in your everyday life. This includes, the way you walk, go up the stairs, or the way your sit, etc.
The major point is that your knees are meant to travel at such a big range of motion. So allowing your knee to go past your toes requires full extension and flexion of the joint of healthy tissues, stronger tendons, and a balanced muscle development.
Why Split Squats are the Best Exercises for Stronger Knees
The secret towards allowing your knees to go over your toes is having great stability throughout the full range of motion while simultaneously having a good amount of strength. For most people, this can’t be done simply by just squatting. So one of my favorite unilateral exercises to do is the split squat.
The split squat is a unilateral exercise that takes the single leg through a full range of motion without placing excessive tension on the tissues around the knee and less emphasis on the lower back. Unlike many other “split squat” variations (i.e. a lunge or Bulgarian lunge), this exercise takes you into a much deeper range of motion and has access to many more muscle groups. Also, it hits two joints like the ankle and hips. This will help accelerate the improvement of your range of motion while strengthening the leg muscles and tissues in the knee.
The split squat is my one go-to exercise I use in my warm-ups, in my mobility routine, and implemented in building muscle and strengthening my legs.
Other exercises that builds tough knees and strong legs.
Now I want to move on to several other exercises that integrates a healthy “knees over toes” application and exercises that’ll compliment your overall strength development of your legs and knees.
Heels Up Cycling Squat
This exercise creates an ideal amount of stimulus on the entire quads and knees. The extreme range of motion can help take some pressure off of those fragile knees and lower back:
Video: Click Here
A great exercise (if done correctly) that will target your vastus medialis oblique (VMO) and glutes. There are many variations of this exercise that’ll place different emphasis on these muscles, but they are all effective for correcting muscular imbalances and healthy knees.
Video: Click Here
This versatile exercise is a natural pulling exercise that places continual tension on your quads (as well as on all the other leg muscles) and it’s easy on your knees. The best part this exercise is that anyone can do it regardless of your fitness level and age. Plus, it’s a fun tool to implement towards reaching your strength goals.
Video: coming soon
At the end of the day, all these exercise variations are great to relieve pressure off your knees and build a healthier, functional, and stronger lower-body. If you’re not sure where to start or need a structured plan, check out our strength training programs that include many of these exercises I just explained. These exercises are the foundation that I use for my clients to help them achieve their strength goals and thrive in their day to day lives.
Check-out our in-depth programming from our training plans listed below!