As an obsessed skier I don’t want to miss a day or sit on the sidelines due to a knee injury or debilitating pain. In another life I was a a collegiate baseball player and I used to squat way too much weight, way too often. Miserably sore knees were just a fact of life for me. Once I hung up my cleats I wanted to spend every minute in the mountains, but my knees didn’t quite agree. For the last few years, I’ve been skiing, hiking, running and doing whatever I want with zero pain.
Here’s How I Did It.
Table of Contents
The Big Four
If you’re feeling any pain, be it physical or mental, the first thing to dial in are what I like to call ‘the big four’. Great thing is, they are no secret, just the most basic and executable human functions.
- Eat Well
- Workout Consistently (and don’t forget core)
Although you might not be able to do each one perfectly, you need to try and make your wellbeing baseline as consistent as possible. The most important one of all is staying mobile! I had debilitating knee pain for an entire year. I never thought it would go away. I was working an inbound sales job in the city and spent all my time sitting. I called it quits, moved into the tailgate of my truck and learned very quickly that you can’t do anything while living in a vehicle without moving. Believe it or not, after weeks of moving and hiking all the time. Poof. Pain gone. It was as simple as that… Move More!
But since moving all the time isn’t really realistic for most of us working professionals, try and dial in your big four the best that you can. Make movement and workouts a habit, eat the best you can and keep your sleep consistent.
Skiing hard takes a serious toll on the body, especially as you get older. Sometimes basic movements and workouts aren’t enough to keep your knees safe when surviving a crash or stomping a massive cliff drop. When it comes to knee pain and injury prevention the key is to keep your hips, quads and glutes as mobile as possible and also keep firing all those little muscles.
So here’s the routine I like to do 2-3 times a week that keeps my knees BULLET PROOF. This workout is a great option while you’re watching your favourite show, sports or just before or after a workout. Honestly, mix this in whenever you can and you’re going to see your pain disappear and your performance improve.
Strengthening & Mobility
Squat deeply and touch your ‘ass to the grass’. The closer you bring your feet together the easier it will be. Over time you can work your feet a bit wider and make sure to keep those heels pressed to the ground.
Deep Lunge Over Knee
You’ve probably been told to never bring your knees over your shin while training. Screw that nonsense. All range of motion is good (if you’re not loading with weight). Over time go deeper and deeper focusing on pressing your glutes into your calf.
Lunge With Extension
This one is my personal favourite. Lunge while keeping your weight back. This time you want your knee behind your shin and weight on your hamstrings and glutes. Bring your hands together, extend them into the air and lean to the side of the forward leg. Move your heel up and down and feel the stretch.
Place your legs shoulder width apart and rest your hands near your ribs. Arch the spine and look forward. Hinge with the glutes and hamstrings, not the back.
Plant your feet, head, shoulders and hands on the ground. Thrust up into the air as high as you can and repeat. If you feel any knee pain, try moving your feet closer to your body.
Laying Leg Raises
Our hip flexors rarely get targeted strengthening, but they are always under stress when participating in outdoor sports. Simply lay on the ground, straighten your leg and raise it up. Add a band if you need more resistance.
Side Raise With Pinch
Lay on your side, straighten your leg, bring it backwards as far as you can, then raise it up. On the way down touch your knee in front of your body and repeat. It might be easier checking out the video for this one.
Lay on your side with your legs behind you almost at 90 degrees. Open and close your legs like a clamshell. Do both sides. This one is ideal with a band.
Knees on ground Lean Back Stretch
Rest your knees and shins on the ground. Touch your feet together behind you. Lay down to you back and lift yourself up using your legs. This one is very tricky when you’re starting so put some couch cushions behind you or use your hands for assistance.
Get on your hands and knees. Lift the opposite arm and leg at the same time and hold perpendicular. Repeat on either side.
Foam rolling is the unlock to a free massage anytime. Obviously a professional massage is amazing, but who has the time or money to make that happen every day. The key here is to take a few minutes on each quad slowly rolling back and forth and idling/focusing on the specific areas that bring you pain. Roll the quads, hamstrings, IT band and your calves. Rolling is for the big muscles, don’t roll directly on your knee cap!
Stretching was the least helpful for me when it came to pain reduction and recovery. Mobility and strengthening is king. However, if time permits, it never hurts to finish with a few static stretches. Just make sure your body is warmed up. Doing static stretches without a warm body is going to cause more harm than help. Try some of these stretches or just do whatever feels good to you.
Hamstring Stretch With Band
Hip Flexor Stretch
This routine is ideal for people in rehab, post rehab or best of all, before you have an injury or pain in the first place. I always make the same mistake every year of being inconsistent with my routine, stopping and getting over confident, injuring myself, then having to do it all over again.
These movements are a culmination of many sessions with various physios, trainers, athletes, coaches and random people at the gym. Please keep in mind I am not a doctor or physiotherapist, just a guy who likes staying healthy. Always check with a medical professional before taking on a workout plan.
Here’s to healthy knees!
Let me know if you have any Q’s in the comments.