I'm writing because I have knee pain when I exercise. I especially feel it when doing lunges and squats. It's a sharp, shooting pain in my knee cap. I was wondering if you have any suggestions about how to strengthen my knees, or if there are certain exercises I just shouldn't do, and if so, what are some alternatives. Oh, I should give you a little info about myself: I'm a 42 year old woman, and I'm about 100 pounds overweight. I've been exercising regularly(4-5 times/week for 60 minutes) for 4 years and doing strength training 2-3 times/week for the last 2... I was working with a personal trainer for the last year but recently stopped. He was very young, and a good trainer, but he didn't take my knee pain seriously and kept dismissing me when I would tell him about it. I just don't think he really knew how to help me, so he just ignored it. It has gotten worse recently. Any insight you could give would be helpful.
Hi Kirsty! Thanks for the nod on the videos, they are fun to make - you can show while you tell!
Now, about those knees. First, have you sustained any injuries, or did this just creep up over time?
There are some very simple powerful things you can do to strengthen the knees and to keep from injuring them even more. It is very common as we move through time (my way of saying getting older!) for the knees to collapse inward to the midline of the body, and the ankles to collapse as well. This places tremendous stress on the knees. If we do not take care, and just exercise without trying to counter or offset this tendency, we can make things worse.
Taking care to be sure you never allow the knee to roll to the inside with any exercise is an important first step. Keep lunges more shallow to pay attention to position, and then work your way up. You want to strengthen the outer knee attachments to help rebalance the muscles around the knee. Don't work through the pain, correct the position.
Calf raises with straight legs are very good also for strenthening the muscles that run to and through the knee.
Good shoes and good walking alignment - with toes forward so you don't stress the inside of the knee - are important as well.
There is hope, I've worked with many many women with knee complaints just as you note with much success!