Avoid Injured Knees At All Costs!
There are not too many body parts that are more important to dirt bike riders than our knees. They help us sit, stand, squat, and take jumps and turns without crashing and burning. They also help us grip, stabilize, and control the bike, too.
And let’s not forget how useful they are off the bike. It would be pretty difficult to ride without functional knees, right?
In this article, I’m going to share with you why knees should be one of the most protected and vital body parts for any motorcycle rider and cover a few critical rider fitness exercises and tips that will help you keep your knees in tip-top shape.
Why It’s Important to Train and Strengthen Your Knees
Knees are one of the most injured body parts in motocross and enduro. Strength and conditioning of the knee and its joints are crucial to sustaining a healthy and productive riding career, regardless of if you’re a hobbyist, amateur, or seasoned veteran.
Knee injuries on the track and trail often occur from a sudden movement or jolt that causes the knee to move outside of its normal range of motion. This type of injury can result in ligament tears, sprains, and more. But knee injuries aren’t restricted only to what happens on the track. They can also occur off the track and over an extended period.
Knee injuries have ended careers end every sport… even golf. And if they don’t end a career, they can sideline a rider for months on end, effectively negating all of the hard work and time you put in for the season. Naturally, an event like that can take a significant toll on your morale and confidence as a rider.
How to Increase Your Knee Strength
Your quadriceps (front thighs) and hamstrings (back thighs) are the primary support for your knees. By strengthening these muscles, you, in turn, increase your knee strength and ability to handle a higher degree of jolt and shock. The following exercises will help strengthen these key, supporting muscles. These exercises are also how to save your knees in the long run.
Wall squats are a variation of a traditional squat, where you lean back against a wall for added support. With wall squats, you want to make sure you position your knees behind your toes at all times.
Stand with your upper body against the wall (head, back, hips). Position your feet approximately two feet away from the wall, and spread your legs approximately shoulder-width apart.
Slide down the wall until your upper leg is parallel to the floor (your legs form a 90-degree angle). Hold it for 3-5 seconds and slowly rise back up.
Number of sets and repetitions: 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps each
This is a very simple exercise that works out your hamstrings.
Stand straight with your hands grasping the back of a chair or a table (if needed, for support).
Lift the foot of one leg off the ground, and curl its heel backward until it touches your buttocks (or as close as you can get). Once contact is made, hold it there for 3-5 seconds. Then, bring the foot back down to the ground. This may not seem like a difficult exercise, but what we are going for is muscle endurance along with strength.
Repeat the same process with the other foot.
Number of sets and repetitions: 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps with each leg
Preventing Knee Injuries
While strengthening your knees is an important step in avoiding injuries, another equally important step is taking preventative measures while riding. Use the following two suggestions in conjunction with the strength training, and you’ll be well equipped to protect your knees.
Wear a knee brace. Knee braces for motocross and woods riders are specifically designed to lessen the impact of jolt and shock on the riders’ knees. They come available in a variety of different materials (metal, carbon fiber, plastic, to name a few), colors, and sizes. I recommend you always have a pair on while riding.
Stretch. Warm up the muscles in your quadriceps and hamstrings shortly before you get on the bike. Stretched muscles help loosen the tension, which in turn lessens the impact of the jolt to the knee. Good stretches to use include the hamstring stretch, quad stretch, inner-thigh stretch, and lunge stretch.
Knee injuries are to be avoided at all costs. And the best way to avoid knee injuries is to combine muscle rider fitness training while taking preventive measures. Because if your knees go bad, you might as well start shopping for a Side x Side.
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