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Skiers often pick up a knee injury at some stage.

After treatment, healing and rehabilitation, the next stages of the journey back to skiing involve:

  • Training to regain physical function under load followed by

  • Training to regain fitness.

Before building muscle mass, it’s important to re-establish your balancing ability on the recovering leg. Otherwise, our bodies can try to cheat, reducing the load on the recovering leg throughout each day. With that in place to a reasonable extent, regaining muscle mass is certainly possible. The best practice is to seek professional guidance and a structured programme.


Here’s an outline of a process that I’ve used myself.

Retraining your leg muscles involves squats and variations on the theme, such as step-ups and cycling. I enjoy cycling, so that’s what I do.

A modulated gym - based program might involve:


    •     Step ups,

including slow 'step downs’, so that the leg is still working in this phase (NB step machines might not allow for this, so you might need to use a bench, or indeed an actual step)

    ◦    ideally stepping onto a cushioned mat, to protect your joints

    ◦    unladen

    ◦    Progressing to carrying a light kettle bell, then a slightly heavier kettle bell, etc.

    ◦    Perhaps increasing the height of the step over time.


    •     Squats,

ideally in a squat frame,  or perhaps a leg press machine, though this changes the angle at the hip and so the way the whole body coordinates.

    ◦      Again the theme is - progressively increasing the load over time,

    ▪     i.e. increasing the weight used

    ▪     And the number of repetitions per batch

    ▪     And the number of batches in a session

The actual values you use and how they change over time would best be advised by a trainer who works with you regularly, of course.


    •    Cycling,

to warm up and cool down


One other principle

that has helped me is the consideration of load values and the range of flexion/extension movement used.

There are two useful components to this:

    •      our knee joints are endangered if we squat deeply with heavy loads

    ◦     so I only squat//leg press with heavy loads, through relatively shallow angles

    ▪     i.e. from legs slightly bent to legs almost fully extended

    ◦    when I squat/leg press deeply, as I must, to develop effective strength through a large range of movement, I use lighter loads

    ◦    and I use medium loads when I squat/leg press through a moderate range


    •     the muscle directly above the inside of the knee (vastus medialis)  does a lot of its work in the final 15 to 20 degrees of extension

    ◦    so  work these muscles by extending almost fully (not completely, though, to avoid injury through locking out the joint)

    ◦    they can be targeted by relatively shallow squats/leg presses


Keep at your programme, and you’ll make progress.

Consider using a protein recovery shake after exercise to make sure your body has the resources it needs to make the adaptations.

Working out is good, I hope you enjoy it.


Other articles on this subject include:


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