Quads, glutes and hamstrings: how the upper leg is crucial to protect the knee

Whether you’re a weekend warrior or someone who kicks the ball around now and then, you’re at risk of injury each time you are physically active. Knee injuries are the most common, with approx. 25 per cent of all injuries impacting the knee. Considering how crucial the joint is for almost every movement, it’s no surprise.

While there are a range of things that can be done to protect your knees during sport and exercise, it's important to understand the quads, glutes and hamstrings and how the upper leg is crucial to protect the knee. 

Quads, glutes and hamstrings

The knee joint is the largest in the body, made up of a network of tendons, ligaments, cartilage and other muscles. Some of the muscles involved in this joint have a particularly important role.

Your upper leg has a grouping of larger muscles that work to help support the knee in its movements, taking strain off the joint itself and aiding recovery from injury.

While there are a myriad of smaller and larger muscles in this area, there’s three we want to focus on. The quads, the hamstring and the glutes.

How the upper leg is crucial to protect the knee

Our quads, hamstrings and glutes work to provide support, stability and strength to the leg and knee. By building strength in these muscles, your knee is protected without you having to think about it.

The below exercises can be done without equipment, both at home or when you’re out on the sports field. We’ve kept these suggestions simple so anyone can do them, regardless of fitness levels.

Note: while some discomfort and a mild burning sensation often accompany a workout, especially at the start, if it starts to cause pain or heavy discomfort, slow down and take it easy with the movements.

Protect the knee with the below exercises:

Squats - form is extremely important

This exercise is great for strengthening the quads and glutes.

Position your feet shoulder width apart, and point them outwards slightly.

With your arms reaching out, slowly squat so your feet are flat on the ground with your knees, ankles and shoulders all in line, your face looking forward.

Hold for 3 seconds then slowly raise back to the standing position.

Repeat this 10 times for 3 sets, with a small break in between each.

If you're experiencing any knee niggles, you could find it beneficial to wear a knee support such as the GenuTrain

Genutrain knee brace

Hip lifts

This exercise will strengthen the glutes and hamstrings and also help build core strength.

Lay on your back against a flat surface, with your knees bent up and feet flat on the ground.

With your arms reaching out by your side and palms flat on the ground, raise your hips so your knees to your chest form a straight line, your shoulders staying against the ground.

Hold this for 3 seconds, then slowly lower yourself back down.

Repeat this 10 times for 3 sets, with a small break in between each.

Step down

Designed to strengthen glutes, quads and hamstrings as well as hone your balance, this is a great exercise that can be done anywhere there’s a step or raised level. (it’s important for this exercise that you bend the knee but keep everything else straight)

Standing with one foot on the raised platform, the other above the next step down, keep your back straight and your arms by your side.

By only bending the knee on the higher side, slowly lower your body so the other leg reaches the ground.

Hold in this position for 5 seconds, then slowly straighten back up.

Repeat this 10 times for 6 sets, alternating between legs, with a small break in between each.

Straight leg raises

This exercise mainly targets the quads, but helps the surrounding muscles.

Lay down with your back on a flat surface, your legs out straight.

Raise one leg up slowly, keeping the knee and leg straight, as high as you can comfortably raise it.

Hold it there for 5 seconds, then slowly lower the leg down.

Repeat this 10 times for 6 sets, alternating between legs, with a small break in between each.

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Bauerfeind products are developed at our innovation and manufacturing facility in Zeulenroda, Germany. Based on years of scientific research, our award-winning braces and support garments are highly recommended by medical professionals and athletes worldwide.

For assistance selecting the right product for your needs, book a video consultation with a Bauerfeind expert: Book Video Call, or call us on 1300 668 466

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