“There are many muscle attachments around the hips that help control the movement of the knee joint and your leg,” Jaclyn Fulop, physiotherapist, founder of Exchange Physical Therapy Group, told Well + Good in 2020. “Knee pain is often due to muscle imbalances due to tension and weakness, and sedentary behavior for long periods of time can cause pain. to the knee due to these imbalances.”
For example, she explains that when your gluteus medius (one of your gluteal muscles) is weak, it allows your thighs to rotate and pull inward, causing excessive tension around the knee joint. . And tightness in your vastus lateralis (part of your quadriceps) can pull your kneecap in a wobbly direction and damage the cartilage underneath.
When your muscles aren’t working optimally, it also means your joints aren’t getting all the good stuff they need to thrive. “A weak muscle pumps less blood in and out of the joint, which means the knee won’t get enough nutrients and over time it won’t be able to function properly,” Mitch Torres, PT, physiotherapist and editor for knee strength already said Well+Good. In addition, “strong muscles also act as shock absorbers. They protect the knee joint by absorbing the impact coming from the ground. Weak muscles will not be able to do this, so all the impact will be received by the joint tissues. Over time, this also makes them prone to injury.”
So what should a girl or guy with knee pain do?
It goes without saying that any knee pain should be checked out by a doctor, who can determine if something more serious is going on. But a good bet is also to keep your muscles strong. “You can help correct muscle imbalances by strengthening the gluteus medius and vastus medialis, and stretching the lateral musculature,” says Fulop. Stretching and hip strengthening can also be helpful, as strong, mobile hips can help prevent patella movement and protect your knee cartilage.
A smart option to make all of this happen: do this Pilates for knee pain workout. In the latest episode of Well+Good’s “Trainer of the Month Club”, Chloe de Wintera Pilates instructor based in Australia, tells us about her 20-minute Pilates routine for knee pain.
Each move is designed to build the strength your body needs to sustain those knees for the long haul, and none of the exercises should hurt you. If they do for some reason, try a variation or move on to the next move. But we’re going to bet you’ll end up stepping off the mat with an extra spring in your step.
A 20-minute Pilates workout for knee pain
Now who’s ready to take knee pain to the curb? Here’s what you can expect.
Format: A Pilates workout on a mat, all on the floor.
Equipment needed: Nothing but a mat to lie on (a comfortable mat works great too). Although you can increase the challenge with a few exercises with a booty band or Pilates ball (or rolled-up towel) if you wish.
Who is it for ?: This is a beginner-friendly workout for anyone who wants to strengthen the muscles that support their knees.
De Winter starts her Pilates routine for knee pain with an outside hip exercise she swears by: clams. The movement consists of lying on your side (choose one side, any side), with one leg over the other with a bend in the knees, and pulsing one knee towards the ceiling while keeping the heels in contact and the stacked basin.
“We’re really going to work on the hip muscles,” says de Winter. “Now the glute muscles all around the hip help support those knee joints. Strong glutes mean supported knees.” By strengthening the hip and glute muscles, de Winter says you’ll feel more supported during walks, runs, and even while standing.
Just in case clams alone don’t burn those glutes (although they probably will), de Winter ups the ante by progressing to clams from a heels-up position with feet a few inches off the ground so that you can access a greater range of motion. She finally adds kicks to the top of each clam to really challenge those buns.
Want even more? De Winter says you can add a resistance band. Too much? Feel free to take a break and work on your glutes whenever you need to. (Trust us, you’ll feel it.)
To make sure you’ve mastered the basics of clams, check out this demo:
The next way de Winter works the muscles around the knees is with the Pilates Bridge, which works the back of the legs, including the glutes and hamstrings. “Really important muscles to really strengthen,” says de Winter, adding that they’re especially good for the knees.
To do this exercise, lie on your back, place your feet flat, raise your hands to the sky, and lift your hips to form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, keeping a neutral spine. “Press into your heels like you’re trying to dig a hole,” de Winter explains.
If you experience lower back pain during bridges, a tip from Winter is to hollow out your tailbone to reduce pressure. Remember, “It’s not about how high you lift. It’s really about activating and stimulating the muscles,” she says.
The workout continues with three different variations of the bridges: push ups, bridges with the heels lifted to engage the calves, then alternate leg lifts to walk with the hips in the bridge position (hello, hamstrings !).
Start by nailing this Pilates bridge shape:
De Winter complements this knee-friendly Pilates series with abdominal work to really engage the core and provide the base and foundation to allow you to move through the world in one strong piece, without putting undue pressure on others. parts of the body (such as the knees). !).
This last section includes slow, soft crunches; alternating steps that end up adding an upper body twist to incorporate into the bikes. Next, de Winter finishes it all off with some tricep dips so you get a little all-body burn, and she finishes it all off in a delicious butterfly pose to stretch out your hips, inner legs, and your back.
If you find that the ending pose leaves you craving more stretches, you can make it a double feature by switching to Well + Good. series of stretches for knee paindirected by East River Pilates instructor Brian Spencer. Because, as Spencer says, “if it wraps around the knee, it’s a good idea to try to release it.” Expect deep calf massages, a series of lunges to open up your hips and quads, hamstring stretches, and computer bands to help you get the back and sides of your legs, which will support your knees 360 degrees. Check it out and thank us later:
Additional reporting by Zoe Weiner