6 Exercises for Strong Muscles and Healthy Joints

The best moves for runners to support the hips, knees, and ankles.

Experts agree that one of the most important things a runner can do to prevent joint pain is to incorporate regular strength work into their training routine. Strengthening exercises condition muscles, tendons, bone, and cartilage so that they can better tolerate the stress of running. The exercises here, provided by Mark Temme, P.T., a Memphis-based physical therapist who works with runners, work the muscles that support your hip, knee, and ankle joints. Temme prescribes single-leg exercises to runners because “running is simply a series of one-legged squats,” he says. “You’ve got to strengthen your legs in a way that has a functional carryover to your sport.”

He recommends doing this routine two or three times a week. Once you can do these exercises comfortably with proper form, add weight. Temme says that runners should work up to being able to do six to eight repetitions with a weight that is heavy enough so that the last few repetitions in a set are difficult. This helps mimic the stress load placed on the body while running.

Side Plank

Start on your left side. Tighten your abs and lift your hips up. Hold for 30 seconds, then relax. Switch sides and repeat, aiming for five reps on each side.

Make it harder: Lift your top leg while in the plank position.

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