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01/25/2018 14:48 EST | Updated 01/25/2018 14:48 EST

How To Prevent Knee Injuries, According To A Physiotherapist

Why wait until it happens?

Watch the video above for a quick guide on protecting your knees. We asked physiotherapist Jesse Awenus (that's him in the video) from Synergy Sports Medicine in Toronto to comment on why he chose those specific exercises for protecting the knee. Here's what he had to say:

Knee injuries are common and can be tricky to rehabilitate. Sometimes, simple activities like jumping over a snowbank or shoveling can cause your knee to twist (Ouch!). Instead of taking care of your knees after an injury has occurred, why not work on ways to try and avoid them from happening in the first place? Knee injuries, like any injury are never 100 per cent avoidable, but by doing the following exercises you will help protect your knees for the years to come.

1) Knee to Wall:

Jesse Awenus

How To Do it:

Stand in front of a wall with one foot forward and one foot back, with your toes of the front foot touching the base of the wall. From there, bend your knees forward so your front knee taps the wall. Push away from the wall, straighten your front knee, and repeat.

If this is easy, slide your front foot further away while keeping your heel to the ground. If you can't tap your knee to the wall without your heel coming off the ground, you have gone too far back. Do three sets of 12 reps each on each side.

Why It Matters:

If your ankle is stiff when doing such things as bending and twisting, you will compensate by over-using your knee. Stiff ankles may also cause your knees to dive inwards when squatting or bending, which we in the biz call "dynamic knee valgus." This inward tracking of the knees can cause ligament injuries that can take weeks or even months to heal.

2) Frog pumps:

Jesse Awenus

How To Do it:

Lie on your back with your feet together and knees bent up. Let your knees fall out to the sides as much as possible. From there, drive your elbows and the outsides of your feet into the ground to lift your hips off the floor. Try to squeeze your butt at the top of the movement before lowering back down. Do three sets of 15 reps each.

Why It Matters:

I know this one looks weird, but trust me when I tell you it creates a killer burn in the glutes! Evidence shows that having strong gluteal (butt) muscles helps drastically offload stress on the knees when running and jumping. The gluteals work to prevent excessive hip inward rotation, which can be a precursor to knee injuries and pain. A strong butt not only helps your knees stay healthy, it also helps you look great in a pair of skinny jeans. It's a win-win situation!

3) Eccentric hamstring slides:

Jesse Awenus

How To Do It:

To do this exercise, lie on your back with your knees bent up and feet flat on the floor - about shoulder width apart. It's best to to this exercise on a smooth surface so you can use a towel under your feet to slide downwards. Press through your heels to raise your butt off the floor.

While keeping your butt up as much as you can, slowly slide your legs away from you, as if you were straightening your knees. Do this slowly to feel the burn in the back of the legs. Try to not let your butt drop to the ground too quickly as you slide your legs down. Do three sets of eight reps each.

Why It Matters:

Eccentric is just a word we use to describe the type of muscle contraction that occurs when a muscle contracts while lengthening., It's this phase of muscle contraction that produces the greatest gains in strength. Think of lowering a dumbbell very slowly after doing a bicep curl. Controlling the dumbbell slowly on the way down is hard and is where the magic happens! This exercise works the hamstrings just like that.

When strong, the hamstring muscles at the back of your legs do an excellent job of helping the ACL prevent too much forward motion of the tibia (shin bone) on the femur (leg bone). When the ACL has a lot of help from the hamstrings, it's less likely to get pulled and torn. Avoiding an ACL tear is a good idea. The rehab from that can take more than a year!

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