Anyone who has knee pain knows that a good warmup is imperative for performance and effective training. You need to warm up painful knees in order to get the most out of your session, to ensure you don’t make the pain worse and to help prevent and cure the soreness you already have. If you have painful knees, then try these steps to make your workout more effective and pain free… And a much better option than popping a couple of pain killers.
Tight muscles and the fascia surrounding them can have trigger points, and trigger points refer pain. Tight muscles in themselves can mean your knees have a lot of pressure placed on them. You can work the muscles and the fascia best by doing some soft tissue work. We all know how good it feels after a massage, and this is no different. Your first step in warming up painful knees should always be with the foam roller.
As always time is a factor, although it would be more than beneficial to thoroughly foam roll your whole lower body, I’ll give you a couple of hints to hit the right areas and get the most out of your warm up time.
Start by foam rolling on your quadriceps.
This video gives you a very good demonstration. Basically you need to cover the length of your quad, from just above the knee cap to just below the hip. Each time try to roll up and down ten times, if you feel like you hit a ‘spot’, stop and hold it a little longer. This will target all three of your quad muscles, but will pinpoint the rec fem, which is the muscle that crosses both the knee and the hip and is particularly troublesome.
You should also foam roll your glutes. Many people are quite tight in this area, and often can contribute to knee pain. Try to get on your glute med, which is the outer glute muscle and one that can affect the outer part of your leg and can often refer pain laterally into the knee. Again roll over the area around ten times on each side.
For more information on using a foam roller and a tennis ball to help your pain, check out The Ultimate Self Massage Guide.
If you are trying to warm up painful knees the next stop in your new effective warm up should be the bike. Rolling your legs over on an exercise bike is great way to get the joints a little more lubricated. You’ll help the joint to produce and use the synovial fluid effectively and in general will help smooth up your movements. Ten minutes at an easy level is enough to prepare the knees for the next step. Don’t underestimate how good the bike can be for you, beats pounding away on a treadmill.
Activate and Mobilize… The right areas.
Taking it on step further in getting the knees ready for a workout is some activation work for important muscles.
Obviously you need to warm up your quadriceps, but its also important to target the glutes and the calves. A couple of smart exercises and you can do this in no time and have your lower body ready to go.
Do 20 of them to get your knees warm.
Bridges on bench
Although static stretching isn’t usually recommended in a warmup, this particular stretch is always welcome and useful. Doing a long and strong hip flexor stretch will help your knee pain a lot. Tight hip flexors can inhibit your glutes, and you need your glutes firing to help take the pressure off your knees.
Your warmup is not finished after this, especially if you will be doing a heavy weights session. Make sure you do exercise specific warm ups as well. These steps are great for people suffering from painful knees and I can guarantee that it will help to reduce your pain. Depending on your activity and workout you will need to finish your warmup with a little more vigour, but this will make sure your knees are in top condition.
Check out this ultimate guide to helping knee pain.