Why it’s a bad idea to use aids and supports in exercise

bad supports in exerciseSupports can help make exercises easier to perform, encourage people to do more exercise and boost your confidence. But they don’t help your body move properly, they ingrain a crutch in your movements that you should be working to avoid.

There are many types of different supports such as using insoles in a shoe, or wearing an elastic support for your knees. The idea behind insoles is that they makes it easier to maintain an arch in your foot so they effectively do the job of your hip rotation for you. And if something is replacing the job your body should be doing, your body isn’t learning to do it effectively itself. In a case like this, the hips rely on these aids and do not get stronger. See this article about fallen arches for an explanation of how you should be training your hips to create the arches in your feet.

For those who have become reliant on supports, we recommend you implement a “phased reduction” of your use of these aids. If you rely on aids during everyday life, like insoles, try taking them out during squats. Then stop using them for incrementally longer periods in the day. Gradually remove them from your life. In this case, as long as you continually practice external rotation from your hips, you will be fine.

Where should you put your knees? Thinking, and over-thinking, knee positions

knee position lying downThis site offers very specific advice on where to put your knees during exercises and how best to track them, but there is a limit to the proscriptions that should be offered when moving, and positioning your knees during everyday life.

A client recently brought the problem this can cause to our attention by asking how he should position his knees in a side-on position, for instance when lying down, given that we advise keeping your knees above or outside the feet when sitting. Correct movement can be complicated, and the theory is something you should try to keep in mind during your everyday life; but it’s time that we made a caveat clear: there’s no one ideal angle and position you should adopt. Here’s why knee strength means more than just keeping your knees out: Continue reading

Is foam rolling always necessary before doing squats?

is foam rolling always necessarySometimes people ask us whether it is always necessary for them to do foam rolling before performing lower body exercises such as squats. The question usually comes up because they are finding the rolling takes up quite a lot of their scarce time, which they feel should be set aside for exercise.

There is no doubt about it, lower body foam rolling can be very time consuming. In our self-treatment videos, part 3a and part 3b, we go through six basic foam rolls we recommend for people suffering from knee pain. Even if you were only going to spend a minute on each roll, that would take up 12 minutes (one roll for each side of the body) – more like 15 minutes if we include time to transition between each roll. Those with particularly stubborn knots in their muscles might not find this is enough time and it would take even longer. Explained like this, it’s easy to see how this sort of work can eat into a training session. Continue reading

Why being ‘lucky’ with knee problems isn’t always good

lucky knee problems

“Does patella maltracking come back after it’s been heavily reduced?” one of our clients recently asked. It was an ongoing concern that if he stopped doing his knee strengthening exercises, his knee problems would eventually return. And it was a concern closely linked to the irritation that other people, at the same age with similar sports interests and training routines, had no problems to speak of. These are two matters that are closely linked and worth discussing though, because the long-term strategy behind avoiding knee problems is very important – and people who don’t necessarily have to devise a strategy are at a significant disadvantage later in life. Continue reading

Contacting us about your knees

We’re here to help with your personal knee problems, and we’re always interested to hear your stories of success or ongoing issues. For that reason we’d like to apologise to anyone who has recently sent us a message through the website and did not receive a reply. We’ve discovered that the form in the contact page has not been sending all our emails through, which is a great shame as we often receive well thought-out and personal accounts of readers’ back-stories.

We would never knowingly ignore a user’s queries, and for that reason we put multiple contact options on the page in case of problems with emails. The contact form may have said it sent an email without actually delivering it to us, however – most likely when it doesn’t like the required email address.

If you have submitted anything that did not receive a reply, please accept our apologies for this technical oversight, and do contact us again. We have produced a shining new contact form now, for you to try. You can also email us directly at info@kneestrength.com.

Remember, we are also active on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, so please join us in your favourite social media channel to never miss a KneeStrength update.

The Twilight Twins:
a short story that asks “Are you really fit?”

helping old man walkAll too often we hear positive feedback about the exercises and lessons on this site, but when we ask if people are actually doing the exercises they reply “There’s nothing wrong with my knees.” These people insist that their other regular exercises, whatever they may be, are enough to keep them fit – without thinking about form of movement. Unless you’ve mastered perfect posture, and a perfect strength balance, however, whether you’ve got knee pain or not, there is likely something imperfect with the mechanics of your knees. Those who claim otherwise just don’t know it yet. Here is a little story we wrote to illustrate this point. Please read it, and consider the message carefully, because resolving knee pain through strength training is not just for today: it could affect all of your tomorrows. Continue reading

How squats can help with fallen arches

fallen arches squatsCollapsing arches in the feet can cause problems for many people in everyday life. Fallen arches, or pes planus, is something as many as 30% of people may suffer from, often causing a lot of pain – but it something that our exercises can help with. As well as addressing patella maltracking and knee pain problems, the cue of “knees out” that we use so often here, particularly during squats, is an excellent way to work at maintaining your foot arches. Continue reading

How X Factor choreography puts Lady Gaga’s knees at risk

lady gaga knee problemViewers of the UK’s Sunday night X-Factor live results show on 27th October 2013 were treated to an energetic performance by Lady Gaga of her tracks Venus and Do What U Want from her new album ARTPOP. However, we at KneeStrength were more concerned with a piece of poorly designed dance choreography which repeatedly put the star’s knees into a poor position.

The picture to the left shows the singer’s right foot pointed outwards, the arch of the foot collapsed down to the floor, the knee and shin turned inwards, pointing well inside the line of the foot, and the corresponding internally rotated thigh. The choreography had Gaga’s knee moving in and out of this position about half a dozen times. Continue reading

How better knee positioning could make Usain Bolt run faster

GE DIGITAL CAMERA We all know Usain Bolt is fast. Really fast. But he could be faster. A quick look at his start, out of the blocks, tells us that. By considering the positioning of his knees, and the alignment of his legs, he could improve his speed – and his future health. Here’s how:

What’s the issue?

After he pushes against the blocks for his immediate start, for the next few steps his foot and leg are turned out when pushing back against the ground. This rotates his body, so the knee of the lead leg has to come in. It drives across his body (as shown in these pictures) in order to counter the rotation. Continue reading

Thinking between sets: the mental attitude for training success

thinking personal training regimesImproving peripheral exercises like stretches and foam rolling is relatively simple compared to improving when performing movement exercises or weight training. There is a lot to remember in doing something like a sissy squat or weighted squat, for instance. If you want to improve and develop your own training regime, however, there is only one thing you really need to remember: keep thinking. Do every exercise with the correct mentality, asking the right questions about what you need to do next to improve, and the next step should always be obvious. Thinking in the following way will remove the need to rely on prescribed lists of exercises and numbers of reps. It will make your training fluid, interesting, personally adaptive and, above all, the most beneficial training it can be. Continue reading