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Sean McCawley

Sean McCawley 

Last week’s Fit for Life” weekly column featured three large muscles attached to the knee and their significance in maintaining the health and structural integrity of our critically important knee joint.

This subject received special attention because it could not be condensed into the 800-word limit for this column. As a sequel, let’s elaborate on exercises that improve the optimal performance of our knee joint.

To recap, we discussed how decreased physical activity and exercise increase likelihood of arthritis.

While previous corrective surgeries to damaged ligaments and supporting tissues in the knee joint are productive to get back to moving, weakness and pain causes distractions in returning to regular moving conditions.

Relatable muscles that are simple to target and improve knee health are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and adductor muscles of the thigh.

The stellar local gyms in the Napa Valley, such as Healthquest, Synergy, and Health Spa Napa Valley have resistance training equipment that is easy to understand.

These resistance training machines are created to have a participant execute movement to target the quadriceps, hamstrings or adductors.

Instructions are listed explaining how to perform the movement. Additionally, staff and personal trainers are ready to answer questions regarding proper usage.

Therefore, resources are available in local gyms to help us strengthen our knee joints.

The theme of lifetime fitness is to be able to continually exercise critically significant areas of the body to maintain a happy, strong, and healthful life throughout the week in any circumstance.

Even though we may not be able to go to one of the amazing local gyms due to scheduling conflicts, we can still strengthen the muscles around the knee in the comfort of our own homes.

Resistance training is optimal for lean muscle development. Greater concentration of lean muscle surrounding the knee joint contributes to strength in the lower extremities, improved balanced, increased coordination, and decreased pain from the threat of arthritis.

To support the theme of lifetime fitness, we teach our personal training clients in the Napa Valley to target significant muscles of the knee with home exercises.

Here are a few exercises that can be performed in most settings at home, on vacation, or on a break at work:

1. Step up: The step up is an exercise targeting the quadriceps muscles. The quadriceps are important because they are attached to the knee cap. Strong attachments to the kneecap ensure that the knee will does not deviate side-to-side.

To perform the step up, find a step in your home or surrounding area. It could be a step in the stairs, threshold to your entrance of your back door, or a curb outside.

Stand in front of the step, bring one foot forward to where the heel is pressing into the step, and lift the opposite foot to meet even with the leading foot.

Step down with the first foot that led the movement, then rinse and repeat with the other foot.

2. Supine hip bridge: This exercise targets the hamstrings and gluteal muscles.

Hamstrings are an important attachment point of the knee because this large, dense muscle attaches from the back of the hip and runs underneath the knee joint. Strong hamstrings will help reinforce damaged knee ligaments or previously surgically repaired ligaments. This adds support by guarding the knee when stress is applied to the knee and influences it to shift front-to-back past its range of motion from.

To perform the supine hip bridge, lay down on your back. Bend both knees and bring your heels close to your bottom, your knees should be bent at about 45 degrees.

While maintaining a perfectly flat back and driving through the heels into the ground, lift the crest of your hips toward the sky. Ensure to squeeze the gluteal muscles.

3. Single leg adductor balance: Strong adductors assist in ensuring the knees don’t collapse inward and aid our balance.

Perform this routine by placing both hands on a surface in front of you. Such as a wall or countertop.

Slightly bending the knees, lift one leg to the outside of the body as high as it will go. Hold this movement at the maximum range of motion for about 5 seconds. Repeat on the other side of the body, alternation side to side.

Performing these exercises for about 5-10 repetitions each once a week will positively influence the knee health.

Adherence to exercise is critical to lifetime fitness. Especially when referring to a strongly influential joint such as the knee.

Therefore, dedicating time to this joint throughout the week will improve the quality of life. If you can target these muscle groups at a local gym, knock yourself out.

If you can’t make it to a local gym, utilize home exercise resources like the ones stated above. Use the powerful tool of will power and lifetime fitness to keep the joints that allow us take one step at a time healthy and strong.

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Sean McCawley, the founder and owner of Napa Tenacious Fitness in Napa, welcomes questions and comments. Reach him at 707-287-2727, napatenacious@gmail.com or visit the website napatenaciousfitness.com.

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