This weekend’s challenge is an isometric exercise that works the thigh muscles to build density in the femur, which is especially important for anyone who’s ever taken bisphosphonates and for those suffering from knee pain.
Knee pain is, unfortunately, quite common, especially among older adults. But research shows that strengthening the thigh muscles brings relief of knee pain, even if it’s caused by osteoarthritis.
So in addition to bone-building benefits, the Isometric Femur Builder offers pain relief, too. Let’s begin!
Atypical femur fractures are a troublesome side effect of bisphosphonates like Fosamax and Reclast. Ample research points to the fact that these drugs weaken and destroy bone quality, so if you’ve ever taken them, exercises that strengthen the thighs are of particular importance.
The Isometric Femur Builder also strengthens the pelvis by working the buttocks. Pelvic strength is key for older adults, who suffer hip fractures far more commonly than younger people.
Below are the main muscle groups that build up these vital areas of the skeleton.
These are at the front of your thigh, and as the name implies, there are four muscles in this group: the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus lateralis, and vastus intermedius. Generally, people are most familiar with the rectus femoris, because it’s in the center top of the thigh. It’s also the primary “quad” that gets used in today’s challenge.
The rectus femoris originates at the pelvis and attaches at the base of the kneecap, or patella. It’s a hip flexor and knee extender, and it works antagonistically with the hamstrings, which we are going to look at next.
This oddly named muscle group gets its name for the tendons that attach them to your bones. A “ham” refers to the thigh muscles of a pig, and the “strings” refer to the tendons by which butchers would hang the hams. Hence the name hamstring, which got applied to the muscles in the back of the thigh. You use your hamstrings for bending your knee and extending your leg. They work in opposition to the quads.
The gluteus maximus is the largest muscle in the body, and is the main extensor of your hip. It’s the most superficial of the three “glutes,” so it’s the muscle that forms the main shape of your buttocks and hips. It attaches to the upper ilium of the pelvis, the sacrum, coccyx, and tailbone, so it plays a key role in pelvic and lower back stability.
For the Isometric Femur Builder, you’ll need a flat wall or door. If you have never done this kind of move before and you are unsure of your thigh muscle strength, you might want to do this near a chair or bookshelf in case you need help standing back up.
- Stand with your back flat against the wall and your arms straight out in front of you, palms down. Your feet should be placed slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Keeping your back straight and your arms out, slowly bend your knees and “slide” down the wall.
- Stop when your knees are bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Hold for 10 seconds, or for as long as you can.
- Stand back up again, put your arms down, rest for a few seconds, and then repeat three to five times.
You’ll definitely feel the burn in your upper thighs with this exercise! But it’s well worth it, because exercises of this type, including other Weekend Challenges like the Hip, Glutes, And Femur Strengthener and the Whole Leg And Back Strengthener, have been shown to relieve knee pain. Sadly, this symptom is common in elderly people according to a Korean study, in which knee pain prevalence among the elderly was reviewed.
Five hundred and four participants over the age of 50 were evaluated, and nearly half of all the volunteers (32.2% of the men and 58% of the women for an average of 46.2%) experienced knee pain upon using the knee joints for walking, chair stands, and similar exercises.1
The scientists also found that overall performance was greatly affected by the presence of knee pain, noting that:
“Subjects with knee pain had worse physical performance score compared to those without knee pain…”1
The researchers took the presence of osteoarthritis into account as well, pointing out that even independent of knee arthritis, participants were five times more likely to belong to the “worst lower extremity function”1 category.
This sets up a negative cycle whereby pain decreases performance and discourages you from exercising.
To Break The Knee Pain Cycle, More Exercise Is The Key!
According to a Canadian study, exercise relieves knee pain even in the presence of osteoarthritis.
After noting that “Knee osteoarthritis is a major contributor to disability in seniors, and patients have expressed concern that continued exercise might lead to knee symptoms in later years,”2 scientists reviewed an extensive amount of data from a wide range of sources.
They found ample evidence that exercise enhanced the physical functioning of those with osteoarthritis of the knee, leading them to conclude that:
“Provided trauma is avoided, moderate exercise does not lead to acceleration of knee osteoarthritis, whether or not there is evidence of pre-existing disease. In either case there appears to be improved physical functioning and reduction of pain and disability in those who exercise.”2 [emphasis added]
I’d like to add that severe knee pain should be evaluated by a physical therapist or doctor, because if exercise really hurts, you should stop. But for those who know that osteoarthritis is causing their knee pain, appropriate exercise can really help functionality, range of motion, and pain.
You’ll find several knee-bending exercises in the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System to suit all ability levels. For example, the Chair Knee Lift (page 38) and the Mountain Pose to Chair Pose (page 31) are both low impact exercises. For more vigorous knee exercise, there’s the Parade March (page 18) and the One Step Jump (page 33).
So don’t let knee pain keep you down! With Densercise™, you’re sure to find a variety of moves to strengthen your thighs and prevent or get rid of knee pain.
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Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
Till next time,
1 Kim, In Je, et al. “Prevalence of Knee Pain and Its Influence on Quality of Life and Physical Function in the Korean Elderly Population: A Community Based Cross-Sectional Study.” Journal of Korean Medical Science. 26. 9. (2011): 1140-1146. Web. August 4, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3172649/
2 Bosomworth, Neil J., MD, CCFP, FCFP. “Exercise and knee oateoarthritis: benefit or hazard?” Canadian Family Physician. 55. 9. (2009): 871-878. Web. August 4, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2743580/ density