So in part 1 we introduced some of the basics for creating healthy knees. Things such as our preferred method of stretching, some stretches to try and the idea of knee integrity and position during exercises such as hip extensions, squats etc.
If you haven’t read part 1 yet we would highly recommend starting there.
These are the techniques that are likely to get your knees feeling good again and will always be worth remembering. Often people like to get hold of new, exciting exercises and leave the basics behind. As I’m sure you get reminded in your jits training, always be strong at the basics, they work really, really well The same applies in prehab/rehab – What gets you healthy is often what keeps you healthy!
With that being said, once your knees are back functioning as they should be, there are several things we can do to prepare them better for the crazy sport of Jiu-Jitsu.
The main things missing from the more basic techniques are:
- Working in various planes of movement;
- Building strength in these planes of movement;
- Loading joints from different angles.
There are 3 planes of movement, sagittal (up and down), frontal (to the side) and transverse (rotating). Most of the common gym exercises people use focus on the sagittal plane, but Jiu-Jitsu very much uses all planes. Just a simple hip escape will use all 3 planes of movement.
Therefore another factor that will determine how strong and healthy our knee joints are is our ability to move, be strong and load our joints in different planes of movement and from different, non-optimal angles.
In order to do that here are some of our favourite techniques for continuing to improve flexibility, mobility and strength while also introducing different planes of movement.
- Set yourself up in a normal 90-90 position.
- To start with you can just shift your hips side to side. Focus on transferring your weight from one glute to another. Just do as many reps as feels good and try to get more comfortable here over time
- Another great way to play in the 90-90 is to try to move your legs through internal and external rotation. Move slowly and try 10 reps on each leg. Remember to switch sides and repeat.
- Torso twists are another great way to explore the position. Move around and see if you have any restrictions. If you do it can be a good idea to pause there and take 3-5 deep breaths.
- To start building up your control of this position try transitioning from side to side. Think about pulling your back leg away from the front one and keep the distance between them as you transition over. As you get better at it you can sit up taller and eventually remove your hands from the floor.
Exploring The Squat
One of the best ways to start exploring the squat is just to spend time in it!
- Start off by using something for support (post, door frame, suspension straps).
- Try to sit as deep as you comfortably can and start spending longer and longer in this position.
- While in the squat you can try to move yourself around.
- Eventually start to use the support less and less until you can sit in the squat without it.
- Once you can squat without support we can start to explore the position more.
- Arm Reaches are a great way to improve not only the depth of your squat but also your ability to rotate through your thoracic spine (which is always a bonus!). Stay as low as you can while you rotate. 5-10 each side is a great place to start.
- Knee touches are awesome for improving mobility and control at the same time. Move as slowly and smoothly as you can. We’ve demonstrated forward and inside touches but you can play with touching the floor in all different angles. Again 5-10 reps each side is a great place to start.
- In terms of building strength around the knee from lots of different angles, you can’t get much better than the multi lunge.
- You can lunge in many different ways but these 5 cover most of the different angles you’ll ever need. Here we are lunging forwards, front 45, lateral, back 45 and backwards.
- Take note of the knee positioning on both legs during each different lunge.
- You can change the rep range depending on what type of training you’re focusing on but a set of 15 each side using your body weight is a good starting point.
- Really focus on control before moving on to higher reps or strength training.
Remember, as with any health & fitness advice, go steady at first and make sure that the techniques are going to work for you and not against you. It’s always best to have someone coach you through these ideas if you’re unfamiliar with them. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.
And if you want to truly get hold of any of these exercises, plus learn some more, keep your eyes peeled for one of our workshops. The workshops will cover these, and other techniques, in more detail with the chance for you to ask questions and be coached through them.
To keep up to date with news of our workshops please sign up for our newsletter below.
If you’d like to explore your specific knee pain or injury in more depth then why not book in for a chat (it’s free!)? You can tell us all the details and we can work out the best way for you to get pain free and back to the mat better than ever!
Until next time.
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