How to Stay Active Despite Knee Pain

Knee pain can really put a damper on life, not to mention your efforts to stay healthy through physical activity. When it feels nearly impossible just to get out of bed or walk down the stairs, you might dismiss exercise as out of the question. 

But the truth is, you still can integrate physical activity into your life, no matter how bad your knee pain is. There are a few do’s and don’ts that you should follow when exercising with knee pain, but you can exercise nonetheless.

Without further ado, here are Vanguard Clinic’s expert tips for staying active despite knee pain.

5 do’s for exercising with knee pain

Warm up and stretch

With knee pain often comes knee inflexibility. Before you jump into a workout, spend a good 10-15 minutes warming up your legs and stretching, with a particular emphasis on your quads, hamstrings, and calves.

Exercise in water

Water exercises can alleviate a great deal of the pressure your knees take with exercises. Swimming is a fantastic non-impact workout that can increase your cardiovascular fitness, and water aerobics classes are just pure fun!

Strengthen your muscles 

A lot of the time, knee pain develops from instability, which can result from weak muscles. Your quads, hamstrings, and calf muscles all help to hold your knee in place and keep it strong and stable. When doing resistance exercises, make sure not to push past the point of pain, and keep weights light. Cables and exercise bands are two great options. 

Use knee-friendly equipment 

Stationary bikes, elliptical machines, and ergonomic rowers allow you to get a great cardiovascular workout without putting too much strain on your knees. 

Use knee support if you need it 

If you still feel discomfort even when following all of these guidelines, try wearing an elastic compression bandage, compression leggings, a knee sleeve, or a knee brace to keep your knee stable and pain-free during exercise.

Now for the 5 don’ts for exercising with knee pain

Don’t exercise on very hard surfaces

Surfaces like asphalt and concrete don’t absorb shock well and can leave it up to your knees to absorb that shock. Most gyms use a shock-absorbent mat flooring, but if you like to exercise outdoors, stick to dirt paths and grassy areas.

Don’t overdo it 

Part of a healthy exercise regimen is not exercising. Yes, you read that right. You should take at least one rest day each week so your muscles and joints can recover. If you exercise too many days in a row, you can put unnecessary stress on your knee joints.

Don’t push your range of motion

If you have limited range of motion in your knees, be careful about flexing or extending your knee joint too far. You may want to avoid squats, lunges, and similar exercises, or at least modify the range of motion within those movements. You should also avoid loading your knee with weight on an open-chain movement, such as on the leg extension machine. 

Don’t do high-impact activities 

Sports like soccer, football, basketball, and racquetball may not be the best choice if you have knee pain. These activities involve a great deal of running, jumping, twisting, and changing directions, which can aggravate knee pain.

Don’t start without help from a professional

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed about how to stay active despite knee pain, seek guidance from a professional. A doctor, personal trainer, or other professional who specializes in exercise can help you devise a plan. 

Ready to start exercising? Get expert guidance for exercising with knee pain from Vanguard Clinic by calling our St. Louis office today at 314-230-0876, sending us a message here on our website, or booking an appointment online

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