Four Exercises to Protect Your Knees

knee painDid you know that a source of your knee pain may not be the knee? This one muscle may be causing a lot of your knee issues and it’s not even connected to your knee. It’s way underrated but very important.

I’ll confess that in late 2013 and all of 2014 I virtually stopped doing any strength training. I paid a heavy price for that decision. In 2014 I tore my right meniscus running  that I eventually had to have surgery to repair. The cause was an extremely weak glut. My left side of my body; legs, butt and core, were always weaker than my right side. Thus my right side had to work overtime to compensate. When I placed a great deal of wear and tear to my body through training for the Ironman the right side simply gave out and I eventually tore my meniscus in my right knee.

Having knee surgery and the possible outcome of never running again caught my attention. Since then I’ve dedicated a great deal of attention to rebuilding the strength in my entire body.

Pilates and Glut Strength Training

Below  are four exercises that focus on building strength in your gluts (butt) and thus stabilizing your knee. Two of the exercises are done using the Pilates reformer machine. The benefit of the reformer is you’re not loading your entire body weight on your back, it specifically targets the one muscle and isolates it and you have to engage your core simultaneously as you target your gluts. In the absence of a reformer you can use a large stability ball to raise your body from the ground.

Number of Reps and Sets

Always starting anything for the first time start easy and build up. If you’ve never used a Pilates reformer then you may not be able to do one leg at a time. You may have to start with both legs. Your goal is to always do one leg at a time to specifically target the muscle. When you use both legs at a time, like in dual leg squats, the stronger leg will alway overrule. This is why it’s best to work toward one leg routines.

On the Pilates you may start with 3 sets of 5. As you extend as illustrated you’ll want to make sure you feel it in the glut. If you feel it in your  quadriceps then they are being recruited and you’ll want to stop and refocus making sure your glut is doing the work. In the extension phase hold the pose for 5 seconds before you raise up via the glut and hamstring, keeping the core extremely engaged and body flat, and again hold for 5 secs. In time increase the number of 5 second reps.

The same holds true with the other three routines. Start with 3 sets of 5 reps and work up to 10-15 reps.


Pilates; Great for Everyone

My first Pilates Class

braden pilatesMy doctor and friend, Robert Braden DC, encouraged me to attend a 5:30am Pilates class he and his wife Cindy taught. He and I have worked on the many causes of all the running injuries I had sustain this year. The goal was to free up and activate the 46 muscles that surround the pelvis which are commonly called the “Core.” He indicated that past age 50 people lose on the average 5% of their muscle mass around this area and is the reason many people have hip, back and knee pain. He said, “If people would take care of these areas and eat right there would be 80% fewer hip and knee replacements.”

As I looked back on my Ironman triathlon journey I always avoided strength and core training because it was boring. But with all the injuries I had had last year and a poor performance in Ironman Lake Tahoe I am passionate now to improve in this area.

There were 5 categories of poses I did and each category has several variations and parts. It takes about an hour to complete. When I was done I was very pleased with the reduction of pain and the increase in flexibility.

I’m sold!