It is the beginning of the year and a good time to review some fitness basics on how to treat your body when working out, specifically your knees. I am here to remind you to avoid locking your knees. When you are lifting weights, either with a machine or free weights, do not jam your knees to a fully straight position, forcing the joint to lock at its end range of movement. The sensation of a locked knee is the energy of the joint going back instead of up.
Locking your knee in this manner puts a lot of unnecessary stress on the joint, which in turn increases your risk for injury. When you lock the knee, the joint, not the muscle, is doing all the work, and the muscles were designed to do the work. The soft tissues of the joint are vulnerable and cannot regenerate, leaving your knees ripe for overuse injury if you tax them by locking the joint. When using the leg extension machine to work your quads, make sure you are just straightening the knee and not jamming the joint into a locked position. Control that last bit of straightening the knee with your muscles. Don't let momentum force you past a safe position.
Try to avoid the locked knee position when you’re lifting weights, cycling (for instance, if your seat is too high), or doing yoga or any other activity that puts extra weight on your knees. When working out at the gym or in an exercise class, ask a trainer or yoga teacher to evaluate your technique.