Do you do specific exercises for your hips and knees? Do you work your hip through the entire range of motion and engage the abductors and adductor muscles? If not, maybe you should.
The abductors and adductors are critical for providing integrity of the hip joint and create a strong, balanced link between the lower body and the torso. They also need to be exercised through an entire range of motion.
If you work these muscles only in one direction (forward and back) by walking, running or using common cardio machines then you are not building structural integrity of the hip or the entire lower body.
These muscles, along with the quads and hamstrings, play an important role in allowing the patella (kneecap) to track properly as the knee joint bends. If the abductor and adductor muscles are not strong, flexible, and balanced, knee pain such as patellofemoral syndrome, and injury is more likely.
Strong Muscles Support Joints
Strengthening and balancing the muscles that surround the knee can take the pressure off the joint and decrease the amount of total weight absorbed by the ligaments, meniscus, and cartilage in the knee. Because the knee is a hinge joint and only moves in one direction, it's important to maintain both strength and stability.
The hip joint, on the other hand, is a ball and socket joint that works best when it has mobility as well as strength.
The hip is a much more complicated joint and needs to be exercised in a variety of directions, including rotation, in order to increase overall stability. If the muscles that support the hip joint (quadriceps, hip flexors, glutes, hamstrings, and even the core muscles) are strong and allow appropriate mobility, the amount of pressure and wear and tear on the hip joint, as well as the knee joint, decreases.
Proper Alignment Reduces Pain
The soft tissues of the body (muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc.) help maintain proper alignment of the bones during movement. If bones aren't properly aligned when they move through a range of motion, there can be a great deal of friction, a lack of stability, decreased mobility and compromised function. This can set an athlete up for a variety of injuries.
The best way to maintain biomechanical integrity during movement is with the proper balance of strength and flexibility around the joint. Muscles work in pairs (extensors and flexors) and maintaining the proper balance of strength in these muscle pairs can go a long way to prevent joint pain and injury.
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