How to Minimize Knee Pain in High-Intensity Workouts

Hello friends!  Hope your week is going well.  Do any of you struggle with knee pain during or after workouts?  I definitely do.  Last year I wrote a blog post titled, “No More Knee Pain”  that provides information about the knee anatomy and knee injury prevention.  Today I want to talk about minimizing knee pain while partaking high intensity and even high impact exercises.  If you’re like me, you hate having to sit on the sidelines while others are having a blast and getting a killer workout.  Despite tearing my ACL and having reconstructive surgery, I’ve found ways to maintain my participation in high impact exercise.  Essentially, I abide by these key rules…

  1. Wear Supportive Shoes. I know that minimalist sneakers are really in style (i.e. Nike Frees, which I LOVE). However you should make sure that your shoes provide enough cushion to support your fit in high impact exercise. That means your shoes should enable a soft landing when you jump and provide solid support when you run.
  2. Stay light on your toes. This is especially important when jumping. Be sure to land on the balls of your feels to minimize the impact of landing. Also, avoid landing on your heels and NEVER lock out your knees.
  3. Engage your quads and hamstrings. In plyometric workouts it’s critical that you use your legs muscles to drive the movement. Proactively tighten your thigh muscles (quads and hamstrings) before you execute an explosive motion. These muscles provide critical knee support. When properly engaged, they minimize strain on your patella tendon and IT bands.
  4. Keep your knees pointing in the same direction as your toes. When your knees and toes are misaligned you put yourself at high risk of twisting your knee and getting injured.  An easy way to ensure your leg is properly aligned is to keep you knees pointing in the same direction as your toes (espcially when squatting).
  5. When Squatting, never let your knees go beyond your toes. Related to tip #5, it’s equally important to avoid leaning forward or squatting too deep to the point that your knees go past your toes.  In my classes, I always say “make sure you can see you toes.”  If you’re doing a squat and you can’t see your toes, you need to sit back more or maybe not squat so low.
  6. Compress.  Wearing a compression sleeve or a knee brace can help increase blood flow.  Adequate blood flow is important for muscle repair and recovery.  Also, the compression provides added support to your joint during exercise.

On this last point, a few weeks ago I was approached by Opedix to write a review on their new compression tights. ‚ÄčThese tights incorporate a patented knee support and have “scientifically designed ‘tensioning’ systems in the base layer to enhance the kinetic functioning of your body.” Unlike traditional compression, they also help keep your joints aligned through “Torque Reform Technology.” Given my history with knee injuries I accepted the request.

First, off the tights came to me in this really fancy box.  I was like, “Whoa – this is serious business” …

After I opened the box and pulled out that tights, I could definitely see that they had built in compression.  In fact, I thought they looked kinda funky.  Y’all know I’m keen on stylsih, cute activewear – style and functionality are equally important to me.  Fortunately when I tried on the tights, they didn’t look too bad.  Not amazing, but not terrible.   They fit low on my waist and snug throughout my leg.  I could really feel the added support around the knee joint.  On the down side, the compression squeezes right above my knee and makes me look like have an extra fat pudge on my inner thighs.

Brit’s Opedix Compression Tights – Women’s Style

I went ahead and wore them to my kickboxing class that day. (You can check out my post-workout pic on Instagram)  During the workout my legs felt strong, stable and supported.  The tights didn’t slip down on my waist nor rub on my leg to cause discomfort.  Better yet, I had a pink headband that matched the waistband on my tights so I was lookin’ good ūüôā  After the workout, surprisingly, my knees were not as sore as they usually are – very nice.  Final verdict – BUY.  These are a legit product especially if you’ve been battling knee injuries and are looking for a new pain-relieving solution.  However, keep in mind that knee pain, in most cases, is chronic.  So it’s hard to eliminate altogether.  Hopefully applying my tips  minimize your knee pain and keep you in the game for more running, burpees and squat jumps!  ūüėČ Lots of luv, Brit

Which exercises cause you the most knee pain?  

How do you protect your knees from injury?

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How to Handle Post-Workout Muscle Soreness

 

I hope your answer to this question is, “AWESOME!” ¬†While that may be true in the short-term, the day after a tough workout can often be pretty painful – muscle soreness anyone? Sore, achy muscles are a natural part of getting stronger, leaner and fitter. ¬†When we life heavy weights or take on a new workout regimen, we get micro tears in our muscles. ¬†Now don’t worry, these tears are actually beneficial because they force our muscles to rebuild, which burns a lot of calories and increases lean muscles mass. ¬†On the downside, we also feel the aches and pains – not so fun.

The good news is that you can effectively prevent and manage muscles soreness so that you don’t find yourself on the sidelines. ¬†Here are some of my “tried and true” tips for keeping the pain at bay:

  • Keep Moving – Contrary to popular belief, the worse thing you can do is be still. ¬†When we stop moving altogether, our muscles build¬†up lactic acid and get stiff. ¬†Even though you may feel sore after a booty-kickin’ workout, try to do some light cardio the next day to keep blood flowing and prevent stiffness.
  • Eat Bananas – Bananas are full of potassium which prevents muscle soreness and cramping. ¬†Eating 1 banana post-workout will help prevent aches and pains.
  • Stretch – When muscles are repairing, they contract. ¬†Make sure to stretch and lengthen your muscles often. ¬†Fitness experts recommend at least 2 days per week of stretching. ¬†Remember¬†to do dynamic stretching¬†(stretching¬†while moving/light stretching)¬†before your ¬†workouts and static stretching (stretching while being still/deep stretching) ONLY after your workout. ¬†You should NEVER do static/deep stretching before a workout because your muscles are not warmed up and you’re likely over-strain your tendons or pull a muscle.
  • Stay Hydrated¬†–¬†Sufficient hydration is the magic answer to almost all body issues. ¬†Your body needs a lot of water to refuel after a tough workout so make sure your are giving it an adequate supply. ¬†Muscle pain is often a result of dehydration.
  • Ice & Ibuprofen¬†–¬†As a former college basketball player, Ice & Ibuprofen was my ultimate remedy after tough games. ¬†¬†¬†If you experience inflammation after working out, place an ice pack the swollen area and take some Ibuprofen. ¬†Remember, swelling is often a sign of overexertion or injury, so you may want to take it easier next time or consult with your physician if you experience¬†continuous¬†swelling.

Hope this tips are helpful.  Now go get your workout on!  Lots of Luv, Brit

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No More Knee Pain

knee-anatomy

Chronic knee pain is something that most of us experience and want to prevent at all cost.  Running or regularly doing high impact exercises (i.e. jumping, burpees, polyometrics, etc.) puts us at even greater risk for knee injury or chronic knee pain.

During my junior year of college, I tore my ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in my right knee during basketball practice.¬† Fortunately, I had an awesome orthopedic surgeon (shout out to Dr. Cooper – team doctor for the Dallas Cowboys) to perform my reconstructive surgery.¬† Keyshawn Johnson and I had surgery the same day in same operating room, I felt pretty cool…yeah I’m name droppin’ so what ūüôā¬† Anyway, with diligent physical therapy and lots of mental GRIT, I was able to return to playing my senior year and obviously I’m still able to live very active lifestyle.

(below – pic of me and my battle scar)

battle scar

However, post my “college athlete” life , I don‚Äôt have access to the resources and trainers that I once did, so I have to be really cautious about protecting my knees and preventing any future injuries.¬† Fortunately my therapists and surgeons taught me lots of tips to prevent knee pain and knee injuries so I wanted to share my top 3 tips with you.¬† I hope you find these helpful ūüôā

Brit’s Top 3 Tips to Avoid Knee Pain

  1. Build some leg muscle – This is the single most important tip.¬† Having strong leg muscles provides your knee with the support it needs and takes stress off of the knee-joint.¬† Strong, glutes, hams, quads and calves are critical to preventing knee pain and avoiding injury. Straight leg raises and squats with good form are good exercises.¬† I don’t recommend seated leg extensions because they put a lot of stress on your patellar tendon.
  2. Never hyper-extend¬† – When I tore my ACL my leg was hyper-extended and then hit by an outside force.¬† When you exercise or play any sports, it’s critical to always keep a soft bend in your knee so that your ligaments have some slack.¬† When your ligaments are fully stretched out, they can tear.¬† And trust me, you don’t want to do that.
  3. Take a load off РDon’t jump or run EVERY single day.  Throw in some spin classes, rowing or hop on an elliptical machine.  Low impact exercises will take some pressure off of your knees but still allow you to get high intensity cardio work.  The fact of the matter is that continuous pounding is hard on your joints.  If you do it long enough, you are prone to chronic knee pain like IT band tendonitis.

 

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