It’s not just those with existing knee injuries that need to worry about exercises that may strain the knees. If you’re not used to regular exercise or are overweight – or both – you may be more likely to experience knee pain when undertaking an exercise regimen. We all carry our weight around with us every day, and our joints simply cannot bear excess weight without adequate muscular support.
The very best way to protect healthy knees, and to rehabilitate injured ones, is to decrease the stress put on joints with regular exercises that strengthen the muscles around them. Before starting an exercise regimen, however, it is important to consult a doctor to ascertain the full nature and extent of any knee pain.
To help reduce the risk of knee pain and knee injury, non-weight-bearing exercises are often best. Begin floor exercises without weights, and then as you progress, try adding weights around the ankle or above the knee. When performing floor exercises, be careful not to over-flex the knees. In other words, don’t strain to keep the leg perfectly straight.
Lie on your back with both legs bent at the knees, feet flat on the floor. Pull one leg up to your chest. Slowly straighten the leg, using your arms to support the leg. There is no need to perform more than eight repetitions on each leg; instead, gradually increase the difficulty by working on straightening the leg without lowering it.
Still lying on your back, pull both legs to the chest, then extend them both up into the air at a 90° angle to the floor, feet flexed. Keeping the feet flexed, bend both knees slightly, and then straighten. After eight repetitions, turn the legs out slightly from the hips and repeat.
Lie on your side. Use one arm to support your head and the other braced on the floor to keep your balance. Lift the leg, keeping the foot flexed, then lower. Performing leg lifts at different tempos will strengthen different muscle groups. Try one slow lift, followed by slow faster lifts for optimum results. If this exercise seems too difficult at the start, or if keeping the balance is too tricky, try bending the leg on the floor while you lift the other.
With knee pain, it can be difficult to get the aerobic exercise needed for good health without further injuring the joint. Swimming is the absolute best solution for this predicament. The buoyancy of water adds support and reduces the chance of injury. If swimming isn’t possible, walking is a good alternative, either outdoors or on a treadmill.
When walking outside, alternate back and forth from your normal pace to a brisk walk. As knee pain lessens, choose walks that include inclines. Walking uphill works the larger muscle groups around the hips, buttocks and lower back. While treadmills may not be as pleasant as a walk outside, they do allow exercisers the option to gradually increase inclines and resistance.
As the muscles around the knee begin to strengthen, you can switch up your aerobic exercise with stationary bikes – or simply grab a bicycle and head outdoors. Stair step exercises, if begun with a low step, are also beneficial.
Above all, don’t let knee pain discourage you from continuing an exercise regimen. With proper care and attention, bodies heal. Make sure you are performing these exercises correctly by meeting with a physical therapist or trainer to avoid worsening your injury. Then, use the rehabilitative period to focus on building upper body strength. Fine-tune a healthy diet plan. Sooner than you think, you’ll be able to pursue a whole-body workout once again.