My problem is the squats. The pain has now mostly gone although it's there on bad days but laterally the knee still feels weak and I am certainly not going to risk pushing it given my medical history. So my question is if I can't (yet) do squats, what should I be replacing them with?
Thanks for your advice.
[url=http://conditioningresearch.blogspot.com/2012/06/wall-sit.html]Conditioning Research: The Wall Sit[/url]
Squats WILL make your knees stronger, as long as you do them correctly. You need to force your weight on your heels, and pretend you are pushing the opposing walls OUT with your KNEES (ie. push your knees out!). Bend at your hips, ass OUT, back STRAIGHT.
Before I improved my form, my left knee hurt like a b!tch after doing squats. Going up/down stairs was killer. Now I've improved and it's made such a huge difference.
I echo other sentiments on the benefits of squats. Overtime done properly they will strengthen and build your ligaments.
Have you tried walking lunges?
A lot of what has been advised is sound and should be tried. I would also advise trying cossack squats & side-lunges, see if changing the angles of resistance helps. Also, a hack that I used to help establish my pistol squat; squat in a doorway and use the door-frame to help through sticking points and as support when you sit back into the squat.
Oh, you called also do step-ups.
Agree with the majority of what's been mentioned, there's also wall, and sumo squats, and the plie squat the yogies use as well.
I've got a bit of back trouble from playing rugby myself, and I only really do bodyweight squats (single leg & pistols), because of that, I'm a shortass as well, so lunges are ok for me!
All of this was probably already addressed by other posters, but I've found that bodyweight lunges and squats are a good starting point. Once you build enough strength, you could try out pistol squats, which are considered one of the greatest exercises for your legs.
Also, Bulgarian split squats are a fantastic alternative.
Leg press's or perhaps hack squats?
[QUOTE=NicMcCool;867252]The squat is by far one of the safest exercises for your knees as long as you use proper form and and perform a FULL squat. Stopping in the middle of the descent, or "half-squats", are what cause the tension and pain.[/QUOTE]
I agree. The other thing that the OP can also do is to do a DB squat and put the front of his feet on a 10 lb plate to gain some elevation. This focuses on working your vastus medialis which strengthen the cartilage/ligaments around your knees. I would also suggest to take a glucosamine and chondroitin supplement if needed.
To the OP, I would try a Bulgarian Squat as well even with your own body weight especially if balance is an issue. Plie Squat is good. Most often people get injuries doing squat due to poor form and flexibility issues. Make sure you stretch after each workout and even on your day off from lifting. If you want to try Full Squat at some point, hip mobility is essential to this especially with your height.
Just listen to your body, and use COMMON SENSE.
Don't push recklessly out of your limits.
Just do air squats. Your body weight is enough for 90% of people.