Melissa Tucker is one of Canada’s foremost global fitness competitors and training coach. She’s also a member of our team of Purica Ambassadors, committed to providing you with healthy eating and training tips. Here are Melissa’s thoughts on how to manage knee pain:

Knee pain is something many people encounter at some point in life. A common contributing factor is a weak vastus medialis muscle that can’t hold the patella in its proper alignment. Improper alignment of the patella can irritate the patellar tendon and cause pain below the kneecap.

When you have joint pain, start with the simplest solution of muscle strengthening exercises. It might not completely rid you of knee pain if there are other factors at work such as a fallen arch or weak outer hip muscles but sometimes it’s all that’s needed.

Using a leg extension exercise to strengthen the vastus medialis sometimes makes the problem worse because of the large shear forces that accompany the leg extension range of motion. I’ve found that one of the best exercises to effectively strengthen the vastus medialis without putting excessive strain on the patellar tendon is the step-down.

To effectively target the correct muscle fibers, move slowly to develop the mind-muscle link you need to activate the vastus medialis and push your weight through the ball of the foot on your elevated leg throughout the full range of motion.

Start with 3 sets of 15 reps with each leg, every other day, until the knee pain goes away. You can hold hand weights to increase intensity and continue muscle strengthening. You should feel less pain and more strength around your knee after each set is finished.