runner’s knee

Favorite Lower Body Workouts

The secret to fixing bad knees is to strengthen your lower body (for me, specifically, it was the glutes). Read this post:  A Runner and Her Injuries. It has a lot of good physical therapy-type exercises to fix some of those types of injuries. Or this one: R is for Runner’s Knee.

I avoid lunges at all costs. I used to do them a lot and I’d be crippled for days (hamstrings) but I kept telling myself it was a good thing. Then I started having knee issues…too many rounds of physical therapy to count, I stopped doing lunges at the advice of several physical therapists. They all said lunges were not the best exercise for someone with knee issues. So…I stopped. I do sometimes do side lunges, which don’t bother my knees.

Here are some of the standard exercises that I rotate through my weekly weight routines:

Squats

I go back and forth between doing weighted squats with a bar or just doing body squats. Both are very effective and help me a lot. It’s good for your glutes, hamstrings, core strength, helps with flexibility and strengthens your entire lower body. It really is one of the perfect exercises you can do. Just make sure you do it right. I was slightly off when I first started doing squats but a quick chat and demonstration with a trainer fixed that for me.

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1 Leg Romanian Deadlift

I’ve raved about this exercise many times on the blog. It has helped me a lot with my knee issues and it’s a really good move to incorporate into your gym session. It’s effective and it doesn’t put as much stress/pressure on your back like a regular deadlift can. It works the glutes, hamstrings and hips. Done correctly it’s also a good core workout. What I find beneficial is that it also helps with balance. I notice when I take a break from doing this exercise and then start back up again–balance is gone! But if I do this move consistently in my workouts, my balance improves!

10 Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

Slam Ball

This a fun exercise! I love it and need to do it more often. Like jump squats (see below), this one ALWAYS makes me a little extra sore when I do it. It works your core: abs, back, quads and glutes. You’re basically doing a squat with a heavy ball. It’s such a good workout!

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Leg Press Machine

I started incorporating this machine in my routine after a physical therapist recommended it. He had me do it in a few different ways. First, the normal way–both feet on the platform. Second, he had me practice doing it one-legged. That is a LOT harder than it looks! And it WORKS. It helped my knee stuff so much. It focused the work on my glutes one at a time. I prefer this machine:

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Over the one that you lay down on. Although, now that I’m pregnant I’m finding it harder and harder to do this machine so I will soon be switching to the leg press machine you use laying down.

Side-Step

Here is another physical therapy exercise that has worked it’s way into my fitness routine. My physical therapist had me do this to strengthen my glutes to fix my knee issues. I found it so beneficial that I kept doing it even after I got better. It’s really easy and all you need is a stretchy band. SideHopsWithRB1

Standing Hip Adduction

Another one that started because of physical therapy…noticing a theme? My knees needed work!! This one strengthened my glutes and hips and helped with overall balance. If the machine at your gym doesn’t have the attachment seen below in this picture, you can still do it. My gym doesn’t have this ankle strap so I just put my foot through the round hand piece. It works because my feet are kind of small.

Standing Cable Hip Adduction

Step Up with Weights

I like this one because it gets my heart beating pretty quick and it’s kind of a full-body exercise. I wanted to include it, though, because I’ve noticed it’s helped me with balance and strength. I do it slightly differently–I step up, then I do a bicep curl, then step back down. You can vary this exercise a lot but it’s a good base if you want something basic. You can use a taller step, you can add more weight, you can lift your leg like the below picture:

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Lots of variations!

Squat Jump

This one will get you EVERY TIME. So be prepared. No matter how many squats you normally do in the gym, do a bunch of jump squats and you WILL BE SORE. I started doing this workout at The Warrior Room and then incorporated it into my own gym routine. Seriously, I don’t know why this one makes me so sore, but it doesn’t matter if I do 10 or if do 50. Same level of soreness afterwards! But you sure feel like a badass when you do it! If you have knee issues, you might want to talk to your doctor first. Listen to your body and stop if it hurts. It rarely hurt my knees, but I was always conscious of it and made sure I didn’t land too hard when I jumped.

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What about you? What are some of your favorite lower body workouts?

Surprise Run

Monday was supposed to be a rest day for me. On the way home from work Michael mentioned that he might go for a run. What? Go for a run?! He’s not a runner! He ran with me in Hawaii on our honeymoon, which was amazing and one of my favorite honeymoon memories, but it’s never his first choice activity.

The rain had started, and will most likely keep going until summer at this point. No joke, the rain starts in February and ends around July 5th. I hate the rain. But Monday night the rain had stopped, the sun was out, the weather was nearing 60 degrees. Plus, the evenings are lighter again so by the time we got home from work the sun was still out! I decided to switch my rest day to Tuesday and go for a run/walk with my husband instead!

We decided to put the dog/baby gate thing back up in the hallway (which I was a little bummed about because I was enjoying our super big hallway sans gate since we took it down awhile ago) because we wanted to experiment with leaving Bella out to free-roam the house. We were only going to be gone for about 30-45 minutes tops so I figured it was a good time for her first try.

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We walked/jogged down to the neighborhood track and happily found it empty. We started out at a slow jog/run as we warmed up. Here is Michael turning on all his gadgets before we got started running:

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It was really nice that we could run together. It’s something I love to do and it makes me excited that Michael may want to get into it. He said he wants to diversify his fitness this year. That’s his goal. He bikes to work, does kettlebell workouts at home and that’s it. I think the more cross-training someone can do the better. Use different muscles! Move your body in new ways. The only downside to having a really diverse fitness routine is that you never get REALLY GOOD at one thing. But the upside outweighs that I think. Neither of us are striving to be Olympic athletes…

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Since Michael isn’t a runner, we did a lot of walking. The routine we got down was running the straights and then walking the curves of the track. I think that was a good thing for a newbie runner. I think Michael did about a mile and a half. Then I did some running on my own while he walked the track. Finally, I remembered that Bella was running free and loose in the house and started to get some anxiety about that so we turned back and walked back to the house.

track3We did about 2.5 miles total (including the walk to and from the track). We got back to the house, the sun had set and it was getting dark by this time, and Bella was sitting pretty in the window waiting for us! She saw us and then took off, running through the house to greet us at the door. She hopped and jumped around all excited (and spazzy) and then flopped down on the floor for belly rubs.

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Next, review the house. I took a minute to look around and see if she got into anything. Thankfully she didn’t! I think she sat at the window waiting for us the whole time! No mischief like the first time she was left out, or the second time when I got home after she’d been left out and she had destroyed the living room….

I was so proud of my girl! She’s growing up. She’s getting more mature and well-behaved. I think we’ll continue to let her roam free for periodic errands we have to run, etc. The gate is back up so that the cats have a chance to run away and hide if things get stressful for them. I don’t think Bella really bugs them but you never know. My number one concern is keeping the cats safe from a curious and frisky puppy.

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I took Bella for a walk in the neighborhood, although it was now really dark out. We didn’t walk a ton, but a little bit and I used that as my “cool down” from the run. I ran about 2.5 miles total but with the walk it came to 2.93 miles total.

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It was a nice run and I was glad I changed my rest day so we could run together and enjoy the nice winter evening. Anytime I can get a workout in without having to go to the busy, crowded gym is a good a time! My knees felt good and I was a little sore the next day but it wasn’t too bad. Michael seems to be doing well, too. Hopefully we can run again in the future!