4 Toning Exercises to Prevent Runner's Knee

4 Toning Exercises to Prevent Runner's Knee

You can prevent runner's knee by keeping the muscles of your legs strong and toned. Imbalances in the leg muscles can cause dysfunction of the knee joint and can cause knee pain and even damage to the knee. These exercises can help keep your leg muscles strong and flexible to prevent runner's knee.

1) Wall Squats

Wall squats build strength in your quadriceps, the muscle largely responsible for holding your kneecap in its proper position. Perform wall squats by standing with your back to a wall, about two feet from the wall. Your feet should be no further apart than the width of your hips.

Lean back and press the entire length of your back against the wall. Drop down into a sitting position, so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and keep them stacked directly above your ankles. If you allow your knees to track out past your ankles, you run the risk of serious knee injury.

Keep your back pressed firmly into the wall, and maintain your balance by pressing into the floor with your heels and the balls of your feet (try to distribute your weight evenly between the two). Hold the position for 15 seconds, and repeat five times. As you gain strength, you can hold the position for up to 30 seconds for a total of five repetitions.

2) Hamstring Stretch

Tight hamstrings can lead to instability in the knee joint. Stretch your hamstrings regularly to keep them long and supple. 

To stretch your hamstrings, stand in front of a table or chair, and place one heel on it. Keep your spine straight as you lean forward, until you feel a powerful stretch in your hamstring. Be careful with this stretch, and don't push yourself past your limits since it's easy to tear the hamstring. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds, and make sure to repeat it on both sides two or three times.

3) Calf Stretch

Tight, short calf muscles can also pull your knee joint out of balance. Stretch your calves by finding a wall and leading on it with your palms or forearms. Bend one leg until the knee comes directly over the ankle; keep the other leg straight and extend it backward as far as you can without lifting the heel off the floor. Lower your hips toward the floor and push into your extended heel--you should feel a strong stretch in the calf muscle. Hold the stretch for 30 to 60 seconds and repeat it on both sides, two or three times.

4) Leg Lifts

Leg lifts are a great way to strengthen the muscles of your hips and quads. Lie on your back on the floor and bend one knee to a 90 degree angle, but keep that foot on the floor. Lift the other leg until it's on a level with your bent knee. Hold the position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on both sides at least five times.