Why it’s important: While a knee contains tendon, not muscle, the strength of your leg and hip muscles—even the gluteus maximus and, in particular, the hamstrings—plays a key role in stability, and in preventing knee strain and injury. Women’s knees are more susceptible to injury than men’s because our wider hips create a stressful hip-to-knee V-angle, and our propensity for wearing high heels shifts our weight forward onto our knees. Knee pain can be disabling, making it painful even to walk across the living room. But don’t bother hitting the elliptical machine to target hamstrings and glutes, advises Kaselj. “It doesn’t work them out at all.”
Exercises that work: Target your hamstring muscles with a simple leg curl: Lie on your stomach. Slowly bring your right heel toward to your bum, then slowly return it to the floor. Repeat the move using left leg. Do 10 with each leg per day.
Also, work your glutes with a leg lift: Lie on your stomach, and lift one leg straight out behind you so your thigh is off the floor. Return to floor. Do 10 with each leg per day.