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The Best and Worst Exercises for Bad Knees

Exercise may be the best medicine for chronic achy knees.

"Strengthening the muscles around the joint protects you from injury by decreasing stress on the knee," says Willibald Nagler, MD, chairman of rehabilitation medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell Campus in New York City.

"Never bend your legs to a point where your knees stick out past your toes."

But you must use good form and technique.

The First Commandment

Never bend your legs to a point where your knees stick out past your toes. That puts a lot of pressure under the kneecap. This not only applies to the following exercises but also when you're stretching or doing aerobic activities such as step aerobics.

Except where stated, do 10 to 12 repetitions of each of the following, two or three times a week.

Best Exercises to Do

Partial Squats

Stand about 12 inches away from the front of a chair with your feet about hip width apart and your toes forward. Bending at the hips, slowly lower yourself halfway down to the chair. Keep your abs tight, and check that your knees stay behind your toes.

Step-ups

Using an aerobic step bench or a staircase, step up onto the step with your right foot. Tap your left foot on the top of the step, and then lower. As you step up, your knee should be directly over your ankle. Repeat with your left foot.

Side-lying Leg Lifts

Wearing ankle weights above the knee, lie on your left side, legs straight and together, with your left arm supporting your head. Keeping your right foot flexed and your body straight, slowly lift your right leg to about shoulder height, then slowly lower. Repeat with your left leg.

Inner-thigh Leg Lifts

Wearing ankle weights above the knee, lie on your left side, slightly back on your butt. Bend your right leg and place it behind your left leg with your right foot flat on the floor and your left leg straight. Support your head with your left arm. Slowly lift your left leg about 3 to 5 inches, then lower. Repeat with your right leg.

Calf Raises

Using a chair or wall for balance, stand with your feet about hip width apart, toes straight ahead. Slowly lift your heels off the floor, rising up onto your toes. Hold, then slowly lower.

Straight-Leg Raises

Sit with your back against a wall, left leg straight and right leg bent with your foot flat on the floor. Slowly raise your left leg straight up about 12 inches off the floor. Hold, then slowly lower. Repeat with your right leg.

Short-Arc Knee Extensions

In the same starting position as the straight-leg raises, put a ball (about the size of a basketball) under your left knee so that your leg is bent. Slowly straighten your leg. Hold, then slowly lower. Repeat with your right leg.

Hamstring Stretch

Lie on your back with your left leg flat on the floor. Loop a towel or rope around your right foot and pull your leg as far as comfortable toward your chest, while keeping a slight bend at the knee. Keep your back pressed to the floor throughout the stretch. Hold for 10 to 30 seconds and then release. Repeat three or four times with each leg. Do this stretch five or six times a week.

Worst Exercises—Avoid These

A few of the following exercises can be done safely if you have chronic knee problems; they're on this list because they're more likely to be done improperly. The exercises above are safer, while still giving you similar results.

Full-arc knee extensions

Lunges

Deep squats

Hurdler's stretches

AUTHOR: MICHELE @ ACTIVE.COM

Boxing Workouts With Lifting

Boxing demands a high level of cardiovascular capacity, but excelling also requires strength. While strategy, footwork and overall fitness are important for boxing, you often will need to be able to overpower your opponents. Incorporating weightlifting into your workouts to prepare for boxing matches can be quite effective. Boxing workouts differ significantly from workouts for bodybuilding and other activities, so you may have to try new techniques and exercises. Always exercise with proper supervision.

Legs

All of your power for punching begins with your legs. The muscles of your legs help you push off of the ground and provide force, so you should prioritize exercises for your legs. Weightlifting exercises such as squats, deadlifts, lunges and leg presses can help you build strength in your legs to help you move quickly around the ring and apply more force to your punches. As a boxer, you may also wish to do jump squats and jumping rope to improve foot speed and agility.

Core

Your core - namely, your abdominal muscles, back muscles and hip flexors - play several roles in boxing. Your core muscles help to transfer power from your lower body to your upper body, promoting stronger punches. Additionally, strong abdominal muscles will help cushion your midsection against punches and help promote balance and stability, both of which are important for boxing. You can work your core muscles with exercises such as weighted crunches, bridges, lying leg lifts and planks. Although many traditional workout plans don't include weighted abdominal exercises, these are important to build maximal strength for boxing.

Arms

Your arm strength influences punching power. Working your biceps and triceps will help you tone your arms and deliver more force when you strike. Perform barbell and dumbbell curls, triceps pushdowns and the military press. To meet the needs of boxing, include plyometric exercises, which consist of explosive movements. These type of exercises mimic the explosive power you need for boxing. Plyometric exercises such as explosive pushups and overhead medicine ball throws can help strengthen your arms.

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Chest and Shoulders

Your chest muscles help coordinate and connect the motion of your shoulders and back muscles. A strong chest will allow you to get the most power into your punches. Your shoulders help rotate your arms and offer force for punches. Performing exercises such as dumbbell flys, bench presses and pushups will help strengthen your chest muscles. Military presses and shrugs will help work your shoulders. While many of these exercises are used in a wide range of training plans, you can make your workout routine more specific to boxing by including drop sets - where you perform a set of an exercise normally, then reduce the weight by 20 percent and perform another set without taking a break. This demanding setup will prepare you to give your all for the entire duration of a round when boxing.

Back

Your back muscles assist your core in coordinating power across your entire body. Your back muscles are important for punch recovery, as they draw your arm back after you extend it to deliver a blow to your opponent. Stronger back muscles will allow you to pull your arms back more quickly to deliver more punches in less time. You can perform exercises such as dumbbell rows, deadlifts and cable rows to assist your boxing performance. The rowing motion directly translates to the motion you perform during punch recovery.

Repetition Ranges

For boxing, you'll want to not only increase your strength but also your endurance. You can focus on those traits by choosing particular repetition ranges for your exercises. Performing sets of 12 to 16 repetitions will help promote muscular endurance, while sets of four to eight repetitions will help you build strength.

AUTHOR: BRIAN @ WOMAN.THENEST.COM