The majority of patients who come into my office do not realize they lock or hyper-extend their knees while standing or walking. They often do this out of habit or because of weakness. Generally, locking your knees transfers stress from supporting muscles to the knee joint, compressing it. The result is decreased mobility and blood flow and increased friction that can lead to pain or wearing away of the joint. While standing, you should be able to contract your quads so that your kneecaps lift. If you can’t see your kneecaps lifting, you are probably locking.
Proper strengthening is essential. Strengthening of the quads and hamstrings used to be recommended. We now know that strengthening the muscles surrounding the hip and correcting foot alignment will reduce stress on the knee joint. The following exercise will target the entire leg to maximize knee function:
◆ Wrap a resistance band around your thighs and align your feet under your hips. Push your toes down like you’re gripping the floor to create an arch under your foot. Bend your knees slightly and push them out against the band, hold up to 30 seconds and relax. Repeat 10 times.