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Healthy Knees

by Racer X Virtual Trainer


This article comes from the TRX Fitness Anywhere Blog database. The relevance to motocross is obvious: the knee is one of the most injured body parts in motocross. Keeping the knee joint and leg strong is an essential ingredient to staying fit as a rider. Equally important to injury prevention is proper rehab. The following article is built around utilizing the TRX, which I highly recommend; but with a little imagination the exercises can also be done sans TRX. So if you have sustained a knee injury, this article will help you strengthen your knee. If you have never injured your knee, consider yourself lucky and use these exercises to keep from becoming a statistic. - Virtual Trainer

TRX Single Leg Pistol Squat.

Alternate movement

"Your MRI looks worse than you do," my doctor said to me after a recent visit. After a torn ACL and cartilage damage I had suffered two decades ago, I was given a diagnosis of "early" (because I"m relatively young!) osteoarthritis. The effects of the degraded cartilage have begun to manifest. The doctor was essentially saying that my left knee MRI looks like it belongs to someone who is more limited physically. She was surprised by my level of sport play and by the muscle development I have in my legs. In fact, she surmised that the reason I"ve stayed so capable is my devotion to developing leg strength to support the knee.

What do you do when the knee breaks down? You can't stop squatting and lunging. If you do it in life, you need to train for it. Period. Over the years, I've worked with many people who have knee pain. After a trip to the doctor, they are often given glib, unhelpful advice like "don't squat."

Maybe stacking hundreds of pounds on a barbell and vertically loading the legs in a barbell squat isn't the best approach with knee issues. But we still need strong legs and stable knees.

TRX Suspended Leg Lunge.

Alternate movement

Enter the TRX. To strengthen the legs, there is no better exercise than a single leg squat. And with the TRX, it can truly be for everyone. Consider walking: you spend the majority of the time on a single leg! This means, with single leg training, you can provide a very "real world" leg exercise experience while at the same delivering a challenging load to the leg muscles with a resistance you are used to - your own bodyweight.

The depth and the speed of movement can be adjusted based on the appropriate skill and fitness level. And with the TRX, you get the right mix of balance help to allow better performance and stability if you need it. Single leg squat variations, such as the TRX Single Leg Squat (right, top image) and TRX Suspended Lunge (right, bottom image), are two terrific options for developing strong, capable leg muscles.

Rehab Advice From Coach Seiji

A question popped up on the Virtual Trainer forum the other day regarding ACL post surgery rehab. Coach Seiji answered and recommended the following.

THE most important thing to do during rehab is to maintain proper mechanics and recruitment patterns in closed chain (foot grounded). What this means is that you squat, move, etc. in a normal pattern (without compensating. Example would be putting more load on the non injured leg) in as normal a range of motion as possible. The BEST tools for are the Total Gym and a treadmill device called a Zuni or Newton. The Total Gym allows you to do squats at percentages of body weight. An example would be to do 20-minutes of full depth squats at 40% of body weight. This type of less than body weight squat is about the best thing you can do until you can do full body weight without compensating. A Zuni or Newton is the same idea but on a treadmill. You wear a harness and this device above the treadmill takes weight off. This way you can walk, run, side straddle, walk backward, walk uphill, downhill, etc., in a regular motor pattern, non compensating.

I cannot stress the importance of doing things like this in the correct motor pattern, not compensating around your injured joint, until you can do it in full gravity, CORRECTLY. I have extensive experience in this exact situation and have successfully taken riders from surgery to racing SX and MX at pro, top 10, levels but I totally stuck to what I am saying. None of these riders had issues ever again. I have also spent a lot of time "re-educating" bodies that skipped this, went on to their sports compensating around the ACL repair, only to be re-injured or injured somewhere else due to loading in an improper, non biomechanically sustainable pattern.

- Coach Seiji

Another important part of healthy knees is stability. A major knee stabilizer is your hamstring muscles since they attach to the top of the lower leg bones. A hamstring that is strong while it is lengthening (eccentric contraction) is better able to keep the knee joint stable while performing a wide range of ground-based activities. I"ve created a great new TRX exercise to do just that.

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The Swinging Hamstring Curl (see below) is a terrific exercise to keep the hamstrings strong when you need it most, which is while they are lengthening.

With injured knees (or to prevent injury), it is best to perform a variety of movements at a variety of angles and avoid excessive loads and/or repetitive motions. The many options provided by the TRX for leg training allow for maximum impact with minimum stress. I"ve used some of the same exercises with obese clients after knee replacements and athletes seeking better performance. - Jonathan Ross, ACE Personal Trainer of the Year, Discovery Health Fitness Expert, TRX Master Trainer and creator of the TRX Super Hero workout.

Related Articles:
James Stewart's ACL Repair
ACL Rehab and Chad Reed
ACL Rehabilitation and Nutrition

TRX Rehab

Dr. Jennifer Reiner incorporates the TRX Suspension Trainer into her sports rehabilitation services at Todd Durkin’s facility, Fitness Quest 10 in San Diego. Here she demonstrates her top five exercises for individuals rehabbing a lower extremity injury.

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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