How to Prevent Shoulder and Knee Injuries While Working Out

Research studies have shown that regular physical activities improve both physical and mental health. However, people seem to overlook the safety aspects of working out in order to obtain what they believe is the ideal body.

All too often, gym visitors practice difficult programs to achieve the best possible physical shape in the shortest amount of time, leaving out basic exercises that stretch and strengthen the shoulders and knees. Due to a lack of proper exercise -- especially the kind that targets balance -- shoulders and knees are exposed to painful injuries.

Why Protecting the Knees and Shoulders While Working Out Is Crucial

Healthy shoulder and knee joints are the essence of our mobility. One wrong move is all it takes to develop stiffness, soreness or extreme pain in the shoulder or knee.

The knees and shoulders bare immense pressure during workouts. Therefore, both joints need to be prepared to put up with the levels of pressure and difficulties associated with most workout programs. The importance of performing basic exercises that build strong muscles around the joints is crucial in preventing shoulder and knee injuries.

Shoulder- and Knee-Strengthening Exercises That Prevent Injuries

There are various factors that influence the choice of the proper shoulder or knee exercise. However, inclusion of a few multi-purpose exercises that improve the strength of the shoulder and the knee is simply a must.

The following simple exercises for building the strength of the shoulders and knees -- and thus avoiding injuries -- require little to no equipment and can be adapted to the progress of the joints.

Shoulder-Strengthening Exercises for Injury Prevention

Shoulder and arm rolls. These exercises significantly improve the shoulder's mobility and stabilize the shoulder blades for heavier lifting.

How to do it: Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart. Put the arms at the side. Keep the back straight. Bring the shoulders upwards toward the ears, then slowly start moving the shoulders in circles. Do 15 to 20 circles in each direction. Afterward, lift and stretch the arms and slowly start circling. Do 5 to 10 circles in each direction. Start with small circles, and continue and finish with big circles.

One-arm front raises. This exercise strengthens the anterior deltoid, the muscle that provides strength and stability to the rotator cuff.

How to do it: Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart, and keep the arms in front of the body. Start lifting the arms to eye level, with only a slight bend in the elbow. Keep the body still, to ensure maximum utility of the anterior deltoid. Do 10 to 15 repetitions with both arms. Use dumbbells to add intensity, if the shoulders allow.

Lateral raises. Lateral raises provide a comfortable way to build a strong deltoid, without increasing the level of stress to the shoulder.

How to do it: Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart. Keep the knees slightly bent. Bring the arms in front of the thighs with the elbows minimally bent. Raise the arms to the sides, until the elbows are at shoulder height. Maintain the elbow's height above or equal to the wrists. Slowly bring the arms down. Repeat the motion 15 to 20 times. Adjust the weight of the dumbbells to the shoulder's strength.

Upright dumbbell row. This exercise works the muscles of the shoulder girdle, helping the deltoids and traps become stronger and the rotator cuff more stable.

How to do it: Stand tall, with your back straight and stomach pulled in. Keep the feet shoulder-width apart. Put the arms in front of the body, with the palms toward the body. Pull the dumbbells up from the starting position until the elbows are at shoulder height. Hold this position for a second to maximize the peak contraction, then bring the elbows back to the starting position. Repeat 10 to 15 times.

Seated overhead shoulder press. Seated overhead shoulder press addresses the anterior, middle and rear deltoid, and requires a little more coordination and balance.

How to do it: Sit on a low-back bench, with a dumbbell in each hand. Keep the hands above shoulder level with a pronated grip and with the palms facing forward. Keep the back straight and the spine aligned. Stretch the arms above the head, pressing the dumbbells, in an arc toward each other. Don't let them touch at the top. Slowly bring the arms with control to the starting position. Do 15 to 20 repetitions.

Calf raises. This simple, yet effective exercise helps provide ankle stability, which is critical for proper knee alignment and strength.

How to do it: Stand with the feet shoulder-width apart. Keep the back straight, stomach pulled in and neck aligned with the back. Slowly start raising on your toes as high as possible, and hold the position for a second, while flexing the calf muscle. Lower the heel back to the starting position with control. Repeat 10 to 20 times. For intensity, add pulsing repetitions.

Lunges. Lunges work the quadriceps, the group of muscles that control the movement of the knee.

How to do it: Stand in a split stance with one leg forward and the other leg back. Keep your stomach pulled in and back straight. Slowly, with control, start bending the knees. Make sure the front knee is at a right angle and doesn't extend over the ankle. Slowly go back to the starting position, by keeping the weight on the heels. Do two sets of 5 to 10 repetitions with each leg.

Straight-leg raises. Straight-leg raises work the quadriceps muscles, and help them provide greater support to the knee joint.

How to do it: Sit on a chair, keeping your back straight. Extend one leg in front, with the foot flexed and the toes pointed. Start lifting the leg to a hip level. Keep the leg straight. Move the leg up and down, while maintaining the contraction in the quadriceps. Do 10 to 15 repetitions with each leg.

Wall sit/wall slide. This exercise strengthens the hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteal muscles and abdominal muscles.

How to do it: Stand with the back against the wall, with the feet shoulder-width apart. Place the lower back against an exercise ball that rests on the wall. Keep the back straight. Start bending the knees slowly and rolling the ball behind the back, until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Don't allow the knees to extend over the ankles. Keep this position for a few seconds, then roll up to the starting position. Do 10 to 15 repetitions.

Step ups. Step ups strengthen the quads, improving the knee joint's stability.

Stand in front of the bottom of stairs, or use one single step. Step up onto the first stair with one leg. Without turning around, step both feet back down leading with the other leg. Do 10 to 20 repetitions with each leg.

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