Knees were meant to bend and bend completely. I could have avoided so much of the pain and stiffness that I dealt with daily when lifting competitively in Olympic weightlifting or powerlifting and even after if I had just started my day with some kneed bends. Standing knee bends... I think people call them squats.
I’ve been touting how bad it is to wait until we get to the gym to move our bodies through our full usable range of motion for a while now. And while I’ve kept my ‘move first’ rule for a while, it took me a while to convince myself to do some full bodyweight squats first thing in the morning.
I’d do a whole slew of seated or lunge position stretches after getting out of bed, but moving my ass up and down repeatedly was out of the question. I still woke up too stiff and achy to convince myself to do even five bodyweight squats.
I knew I’d probably feel better as a whole if I consistently did it and I’d probably adapt and not feel so bad doing it in the morning after a few weeks but that wasn’t going to convince the five-year-old boy in my head who doesn’t want to listen.
Then, I remembered what I did years ago to get my knees feeling healthy in the first place. I did close stance squats on a slant board.
I’d still do these from time to time after heavy squats. They always made my knees feel great, whether I was sore, tired, or stiff.
They’re actually getting a ton of looks these days with the Knees Over Toes Guy growing in popularity. The skinny of it is that the elevation of the ankle helps you get into the position easier and helps you slowly work the push the knees over the toes more and more each rep and make it almost into an active stretch where the muscles in the front of the shin and the quads move through a further range of motion while getting the muscles in the front of the shin and the quad firing quickly.
And this makes you feel good, almost immediately. If the first rep feels good, I’m more willing to do more.
I don’t have a slant board at home so I just stack some old books up to elevate my heels pretty significantly. I purposely keep my toes straight, feet close, and push my knees as far forward over my toes as possible. Most of the time I only do one set of eight reps but I do it almost every day.
It’s not a lot but it’s enough to keep me from feeling stiff each day and reduces the time I need to warm up if I do squat with weight later in the day.
Short periods of work a couple of times a day, it’s done wonders.