Importance of Knee Movement

Why should you worry about your knee? The knee is a transitional point between the hip and the ankle. It is a hinge joint capable of flexion and extension (bending and straightening), as well as a small amount of internal and external rotation known as the “screw home mechanism.” This biomechanically refers to the 15 degrees of tibial external rotation that occur as the knee straightens. Full extension of the knee is crucial to energy efficiency, allowing us to stand for long periods without getting tired and makes walking more efficient. In knee osteoarthritis, the knee often loses terminal extension, which makes walking and standing much more expensive in terms of energy, and leads to greater fatigue and reduced function.

So what should I do to protect my knees?

Range of motion for the quads, hamstrings, and gastrocs is a healthy practice to incorporate for the knee. How often to do anything depends on the individual but it’s generally recommended to do a dynamic warm up that incorporates movement at the major joints involved before a workout and static stretching (if included) afterwards. It’s a general rule of thumb that dynamic exercise that moves through a joint’s entire range of motion at least maintains one’s range, if not improves it. The literature also recommends static stretching of at least 30 second increments to affect the plastic region of a tissue and improve resting length (improving flexibility).

Here are a few stretches you might want to consider: 

Quad Stretch on Wall

Kneel down and get your shin against the wall, as shown, with the opposite leg/knee lunged forwards. Hold here for 30s or 5-7 deep breaths.

Runner Hamstring Stretch with Added Shin Stretch

Get on all fours with one leg outstretched. Slowly sit back, lowering your buttocks towards your heel while keeping your toes pointing up. Here you will feel the hamstring stretch. To stretch the front of your shin, maintain your position, and slowly lower the front toes to the ground so that you feel a stretch on the front of your shin. 

Hip Mobility: 90 Degree Mobility Exercise

Start seated on the floor with your hands in front of you and knees bent at 90 degrees. 

Slowly drop your left knee outward toward the floor, turning your torso and other knee to follow.
Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Repeat 4 times on each side.

To make this move easier, put your hands on the floor for support. For an increased challenge, lift your hands to the ceiling while you move.

Breztel Stretch

This is a great all-in-one stretch that focuses on stretching larger muscle groups such as the glutes, the quads, and the hip flexors, while improving spinal mobility.

Lie on your side with your neck supported. Bend your knees and hips just short of 90 degrees.

Hold the top knee with the bottom hand and move your bottom leg back, bringing your thigh as far behind the plane of your body as possible. 

Next, bend the knee as much as possible and try to grasp your ankle with your hand. (If your flexibility is limited, use a belt or strap.)

Once you are in position with both legs secured (without any slack), rotate the shoulders so you face the ceiling. Do not give any slack in your legs as you turn. 

Take deep breaths while holding the stretch for 30 seconds


Still unsure what to do? Contact us to evaluate and prescribe the best possible exercises to improve your knee health.