There’s no denying that running can be hard on the knees, especially for those who are starting out or may have amped up their mileage considerably. Knees are the most commonly injured joints in the body, where even everyday wear and tear can end up hurting your mobility.

The following workouts aim to keep your joints from stiffening and help ward off several common injuries.

Wall sit

This multi-dimensional knee exercise targets the hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteal muscles, and abdominal muscles, and is a lower-intensity alternative to squats and lunges. Wall sits strengthen your thigh muscles, which help stabilize your knees and lower the risk of injuries like Runner’s Knee. Ensure that you’re doing it in proper form, otherwise you could end up hurting your knee further. Usually a few reps of 30 second wall sits a few times a week is plenty for most runners.

Walking Lunges

Like wall sits, lunges target your glutes, quads, inner thighs and the gluteal end of your hamstrings. However, the additional benefit here is that it requires you to balance on one leg during the transition phase when you switch legs, just like in running. As a result, it helps strengthen and stabilize your knees as you balance on the foot in contact with the floor.

One-legged Deadlifts

This routine comes with several benefits: It improves your sense of balance and coordination, along with your posture – both of which are crucial for good running form. Deadlifts also work on your gluteal muscles and improve the strength and flexibility of your hamstrings. Additionally, you further improve your knee strength as you maintain your balance on one leg throughout the entire movement.

Extensions and Curls
While these require some time at the gym, leg extensions and curls are excellent for strengthening hamstrings and quadriceps, both of which stabilize and support our knees. They also improve hip-joint strength and help in increasing our range of mobility. If you don’t have access to a gym, focus on bodyweight knee exercises and minimal weights to strengthen your knees.

Balance games
These knee exercises are crucial for strength while you run, especially on grassy and rocky surfaces. You can stand on one foot with your eyes closed, and switch feet every time you lose balance.

Weak knees inevitably lead to a host of common injuries including the dreaded Runner’s Knee, IT-Band Syndrome, ankle sprains and more, which can all upset your fitness schedule for longer than you’d like. The good news is that knee exercises strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee joints — Quadriceps (front of thigh), Hamstrings (back of thigh), Abductor (outside thigh), and Adductor (inside thigh)—will help make your knees stronger and more flexible, and you won’t have to run to a doctor any time soon.

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