Thanks to the increased popularity of Knees Over Toes training, new exercises have also risen in popularity. While there are a number of helpful exercises, certain exercises are great fits for helping certain types of pain. Continue reading this article to learn which exercises are the best fit for the pain you’re experiencing and which muscles you should work during this!
Best Leg Exercises for General Knee Pain
When I say “General Knee Pain” I’m referring to knee pain that doesn’t necessarily hurt only in a specific area. Your knee pain might move around, come and go, or hurt in different places at different times. You may have a specific condition but just be undiagnosed.
Firstly - if you’re experiencing consistent knee pain I recommend getting checked out by a professional, so you can get an idea of what you’re dealing with. Once you understand your condition better, then I’d likely recommend the split squat to you. Why?
Most people have rarely, if ever, trained full range of motion with their knees and training through a full range allows for greater development of the tendons of the knees as well as the muscles which play a role in protecting the knee, like the quadriceps. In addition, the split squat increases the flexibility of the ankles and hips, which are important when dealing with knee pain.
The relationship between the ankles and hips can often be directly linked with the knee pain you’re dealing with. Tight and weak ankles, hips, or both can cause unnecessary stress to be placed on the knee during movement and be contributing to your pain. With the split squat, you’re addressing aspects of the hip, knee, and ankle - ensuring you’re giving yourself a good chance to reduce your pain symptoms.
When you’re beginning, one of the challenges to performing the split squat is finding a surface at the right height which allows you to complete the split squats with proper form. Tib Bar Guy has created an excellent solution to this problem with The Slant Stack. The Slant Stack is a piece of equipment that allows you to easily raise and lower the elevation you’re using so you can progress and regress your split squats with little hassle and no time wasted. Read more about the Slant Stack here.
Best Exercise for Patellar Tendon Pain
The best exercise for Patellar Tendon Pain is the Reverse Step Up.
When you’re experiencing tendon pain, a common misconception is that the best strategy is to rest the tendon until there’s no more pain. The flaw in that type of thinking is that resting might allow your pain to go away, but your tendon isn’t any better prepared to handle the forces of the activity that caused your pain in the first place. So there’s a strong chance you’ll end up feeling your patellar tendon pain again. What you need to do is strengthen the tendon gradually, so that its tolerance towards load goes up. Over time this will lead to a continuous time of not feeling any symptoms of pain.
I previously mentioned the Slant Stack. In addition to the Slant Stack being great for performing split squats, it’s also an excellent tool for performing Poliquin step ups. Just like with split squats, you can easily adjust the height of your step and you’ll have a slant board that safely attaches to each step so you don’t have to be concerned about your safety while performing the movements.
In addition to Poliquin Step Ups, there are a number of exercises which can improve your Patellar Tendon pain symptoms. There’s an article on the site where I dive into the best exercises for Patellar Tendon Pain. Read that here.
Best Exercise for One Sided Back Pain
Back pain is a complex issue and there are a multitude of factors that contribute to back pain. Many cases of low back pain often resolve on their own without any type of intervention. With that said, there are exercises which can help speed up the process. One of those exercises is the QL extension.
The QL, known also as the Quadratus Lumborum, is one of the deepest lying core muscles in your body and runs diagonally along the side of your abdomen. The QL is responsible for lateral flexion of your upper body and also contributes to rotation.
A lot of people who experience one sided low back pain train only straight up and down, forward and back, or don’t train at all. If you rarely ever work on loaded lateral flexion or rotational core exercises, the QL extension can work wonders for you by strengthening your core through a larger range of motion and providing it with more freedom to move. This will result in your core, including your low back, becoming stronger and feeling less stiff and that development usually leads to less pain.
Best Exercise for Hamstring Pain
While Nordic Curls and various nordic hamstring curl variations have been around for a long while and used by trainers for decades, recently they’ve exploded into popularity - and there’s good reasons why. Nordics have been proven to be highly effective at reducing hamstring reinjury. One study stated that Nordics or leg curls alone reduced soccer players' hamstring injury rate by over 51%.
One of the issues with Nordic Curls is they can be extremely intense, and so many people can’t begin with full nordic curls. That’s where regressions come into play. By elevating your hips or reducing the amount of space you have to cover on the way down with a nordic, you can find a level that works for you and reap the rewards.
Tib Bar Guy has also created a solution for this problem. The Nordic Back Extension machine allows you to simply adjust your bench to the right height for your current level. So whether your hamstring is currently injured, or is just weak, you can begin working on nordics without fear of injuring yourself.
As a bonus, you can also train back extensions which are another key movement in hamstring health!
Best Exercise for Ankle Pain
Ankles are often neglected in training. You may think there’s no real way to train your ankles.
Well, there are methods for training your ankles and one of the best are weighted tibialis raises. The tibialis anterior is a muscle that runs from just below your knee, down the outside of your shin, and connects to the front of the ankle. With weighted tibialis raises, you not only strengthen this criminally neglected muscle, you’re also training your ankle ligaments and tendons.
This exercise will allow your ankle to better handle the forces that come with landing and cutting.
One of the challenges that comes with training your ankles is how do you know your ankles are getting stronger? What exercises can you do that include measurable load so you can identify your ankles are improving?
The weighted tibialis raises provide a measurable value for you to track so you can maintain confidence that your ankle strength is improving. If you used to be able to only lift 10 lbs for 15 reps and 4 weeks later you can do 20 lbs, you’ve now got irrefutable proof that your ankle strength has improved.
Tib Bar Guy has provided multiple options to help you train your ankles. First, there is the Tib Bar Pro. The Tib Bar Pro is a great option for those just getting into tibialis training as it allows you to train both your tibs simultaneously and jack up their strength quickly. If you’re advanced in training or you have significant imbalances between sides, The Solo Tib Bar is a better fit for you.
With the Solo Tib Bar, you can train each side individually. The smaller the strength gap between your ankles, the less likely you are to suffer repeated injury on one side.
On top of that, the Solo Tib Bar allows for a variation that includes both internal and external rotation of the foot. When you perform single leg tib raises with the rotation, you're now strengthening your ankles through similar ranges of motion that can happen with injury and hitting angles that are often missed in traditional training, which provide your ankles with more strength and stability in extreme positions, and more resilience against injury.
What are your fitness goals and how do you plan to conquer them?