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Suffer from achy, sore knees? Well, that’s because you might not be stretching your knee muscles, or worse, not stretching them at all! Ladies, if you give these stretches a miss, then you’re in for big trouble.
Just the way you stretch other muscles, it is equally important to flex your knees to improve your flexibility, mobility and in turn, overall performance.
“We need to understand that you’re just not stretching the knee, but all the muscle groups that work around it,” says Dr Mudit Khanna, orthopaedic and joint replacement surgeon at Wockhardt hospital, Mumbai.
“Our knee is stabilized by a number of muscles, including quads and hamstrings. If you don’t stretch, then the length of these muscles reduces over a period of time. This can lead to stiffness, which can cause further pain not just in your hamstrings, but all the way up to your back. For the proper functioning of the knee, you need its full length. So, at least stretch your knees twice a day, as it will make you more flexible, help in maintaining good posture, and also support your back,” he adds.
These five knee stretches will help with improved mobility and reduced knee pain:
1. Lunge flex
When you do a lunge, it puts pressure on your knees, and preps your muscles to bear the impact, which is coming its way.
To do a lunge flex, stand straight, and bring one knee ahead of the other. The leg which is behind, must stay straight. The front knee will make a 90-degree angle with your thigh and lower leg. Stay in this pose for 10 seconds and then switch the leg.
2. Quad stretch
Do you know if you have tight quad muscles, then even a low-impact exercise will add more pressure to your knees? That’s why loosening up your quads will benefit your knees, and there’ll be less wear and tear.
For a quad stretch, stand with your spine erect, and with one hand, take the support of a wall or a chair for better balance. Now, bend the left knee and grab your left ankle. Bring your left foot behind you. With your hand on your ankle, try pulling your leg up and back. Keep this stance for 10 seconds, and then switch the leg.
3. Butterfly flicks
This yoga pose will help you with improved mobility, and even relax the muscles supporting your knees.
To do butterfly flicks, sit on the floor, and keep your torso and head up high. Move the soles of your feet together to form a triangle with your legs. Drop your knees to the sides, as far as you can. You can use your arms to push down on your knees for a deeper stretch. Lean forward, keeping your torso and head aligned, as best as you can. You should feel this stretch in your inner thighs.
4. Straight leg
This one will stretch your entire leg muscle, so that you don’t suffer from cramps at all! This is because this exercise helps in enhanced blood circulation, due to which your joints are properly lubricated.
To do a straight leg stretch, lie down on a mat keeping your legs together. Now, lift one leg straight up. Don’t fold your knee, and keep it as straight as much you can. Hold this pose for 10 seconds or even longer.
5. Lateral Lunge
Whether it is your quads or hamstrings, lateral lunges will stretch every muscle in your leg, making your knees more agile.
To do a lateral lunge, stand straight with your feet wide apart. Now, move your feet to a 45-degree angle. Now, lunge to one side. You should feel a deep stretch in your thighs. It’s time to move to the other side. On each side, hold the lunge for a good 5 seconds.
“People have a misconception that stretching is only a warm up. Actually, it is not. It should be done when your body is warm, for instance, after a walk in the park, cycling, or similar exercises. Also, a post-workout muscle stretch for 5 to 10 minutes is very important, and everyone should do it without fail”, Dr Khanna adds.
So ladies, remember to make knee stretches a part of your exercise routine. After all, it has benefits galore!