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4 Best Knee Strengthening Exercises for Runners

Learn how to do knee strengthening exercises for runners in this Howcast video about physical therapy exercises for the knees.


Hi. My name is Eric Sampson, and I want to spend a couple of minutes talking about some knee strengthening options for the running population. Very often runners have a set schedule during the day or during the week with regards to how many miles they want to run and how they want to progress, and often enough due to time management and just regular day and life chores, they have a hard time getting to the gym and doing some exercises to supplement or as an adjunct to their running schedule.

The problem is that eventually there's a little bit of a plateau with the strengthening and with running. Although your fitness and your endurance levels continue to improve, there's a plateau effect in how strong the muscles continue to get with the running. So you need to supplement with something else. The other reason is that there's going to be some breakdown of tissue in the knee, whether painful or not, with a running schedule, and so you need to sort of be proactive about the knee and try to get on a strengthening schedule.

There's a couple of things that can be easily done, some on the table or on the floor and others in standing. But the bottom line is you want to try to strengthen your quadriceps in the front of your thigh and then the muscles in the back of your leg called the hamstrings and your gastroc muscles as well as some of your hip muscles for support.

The first couple of exercises is going to be simply done on the floor or on an exercise mat, and that's just a straight leg raise program for the hip and thigh. You can take advantage of using all four sides of your leg when you do the exercise by simply changing positions. If you do 2 to 3 sets of 10 on alternating days or on the days you're not going for your runs or for the treadmill runs, it's a great schedule.

So all four sides of your knee include lying on your back first, tightening up your thigh and then doing a simple straight leg raise. When done correctly, you're going to work your quadriceps muscle as well as your hip flexor.

If you come onto your side, you can work the side muscles here along here. So you have your hip again as well as your attachments to your knee. So you straight leg raise from your side. Good.

You can come onto your stomach now, and it's basically the same exercise. Now you're targeting your back of your leg, your hamstrings as well as your glute. Keep your knee straight and try to lift up about four or five inches. Good. Good.

And then lastly, come back to your side. If you clear the top leg out of the way and you work on this leg here on the inner thigh, you can challenge your inner thigh muscles, importantly your vastus medialis oblique or your VMO, which is the most important muscle of your quad designed to help the knee. So go ahead and lift. Good. And one more. Good.

So these are some knee strengthening exercises for runners that they can use during the week.

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