Sentinel Performance LLC

As a personal trainer for the past 13 years, I have dealt with plenty of clients that have had “knee problems.” From runners to weight lifters, most people come to the table with some ache or pain in the knee. In order to diagnosis an issue, we need to look at two factors: knee stability and joint health. A healthy joint can balance without pain, while a stable joint will not have any issue with medial or lateral instability. A very common knee injury among many athletes is the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear. To avoid this injury, there are many exercises one can perform daily within their own exercise regimen. Two such exercise that we like to promote for strength and stability are: single legged elevated heel touches and the stork or single leg hip hinges (balanced over only one leg). All exercises can be performed with little to no equipment, using only your body as the resistance.

When working with a client with knee pain, it is important to ascertain which factor you are dealing with. Looking at their workout routine might shed light on the issue, and yield a diagnosis of poor stability or strength. The first two exercises we like to perform with our clients to check if the issue is stability (which we learn through our assessment process), are the heel touch and the one legged hip hinge, aka, “the stork.”  

The heel touch is performed off of a box or step.  The objective is to touch the ground with only the heel of your foot. Over time this exercise should become easier and easier to perform for the client, if they are tracking properly at the knee, no matter the height of the elevation they are placed on.

The one legged hip hinge, or “stork,” allows for many variations and positively effects many common issues found in athletes. However, for the purpose of this discussion, we will discuss only the positive effects on the knee.  Like the heel touch, the importance of this exercise is teach the body how to stabilize your weight over a smaller base of support, (one foot and leg in contact with ground). 

To best understand what you may be experiencing at the knee, whether it be instability or lack of strength, you don’t need to understand all the structures of the leg; you simply need to be able to determine and identify which common issue you are dealing with.  By asking a series of simple questions: is there pain in the knee?  Is the pain radiating from the inside (medial) or outside (lateral) of the leg?  Does the leg buckle in or out when preforming a body weight squat?  Are you able to get in and out of a chair without assisting yourself, holding on?  will do the trick of identifying the issue, and will help you program properly on how to correct it.  Strengthening the muscles cannot be truly enhanced until your joints are properly mobile and functioning.  Once your knee can move without issue, you can strengthen the muscles that surround the knee without hesitation or worry. 

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