The prevalence of knee pain is high! We are talking getting up to 25% of the population. It is probably tied for the second most common pain we see here at Spark Performance and Physiotherapy.
One thing that is becoming very frustrating is the fearmongering and misinformation that is being spread about knee pain. I swear if you use Dr. Google to find out the cause of your knee pain, you will likely find that you are dying with some form of a very rare disease.
It seems like I hear a patient tell me everyday that they have had knee pain for years and that they have heard not to do x, y, or z because it will make them feel worse. They have been told that they are doomed for a knee replacement surgery so they might as well get one now while they are young. Or, one of my favorites, a physician telling a 20 something year old that they have the knee of a 70 year old.
What an insult. And, that saying will stick with them for such a long time.
It is no wonder why, not just the U.S., but the world is getting bigger and less healthy. When we deal with something as simple as a little knee pain we are basically told every bit of exercise we do is going to do so much more harm than good.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, it is more dangerous to those who are dealing with knee pain to do nothing at all.
Here are the 5 most common exercises you are told to avoid at the gym when you have knee pain:
1) Avoid the knee extension machine
I know this one has been said among gym-goers for a long time. In fact, I have heard many people who don’t even have knee pain that are absolutely terrified of using this machine. Why?
The common reason is because people think this will put too much pressure on the patella and force it into the knee joint. Studies have debunked this one. In fact, just air squats without any weight can put more pressure on the knee joint than the knee extension machine
Powers et al 2014 JOSPT
So, you can still keep doing those knee extension machines.
2) Don’t squat, or at least don’t squat below parallel
Why not squat below parallel? I’m not even really sure what the rationale is supposed to be for this one. But, let me tell you why you should squat as low as you can go.
Our joints are like sponges. They need fluid to be healthy (don’t forget to have appropriate water intake). Sponges work best when they get rung out and allowed to fill up with fresh water while the waste of the old water is expelled. Knee joints are the same. You want to “ring” out the fluid by bending the knee and extending it. This allows for the knee joint to be replenished of the fluids as it should be.
Less motion=less fluid, which means a higher chance for an inflammatory disease, such as osteoarthritis.
3) Avoid Running
The more “pounding” you take on the joint, the worse you will be. I swear, this is the most common fallacy I hear regarding exercises you should perform with knee pain.
Arthritic changes in the knee have not been associated with running. For a long time, so many people would tell me running is bad for your knees.
Do you want to know what is bad for your knees? Sitting on the couch and not running because you are afraid what you think could happen to the knee joint. In fact, there is a higher chance of you developing knee pain if you are sedentary than if you run.
Myth debunked. Now get out and run!
4) Don’t let your knees cave in or go over toes
The age-old technique matters when squatting. And that is the only thing that matters.
Techniques can help make you more efficient when squatting. But we are all different. We all have different strengths/weaknesses. What I want to challenge with this myth is that it is not a black and white type of deal.
It is perfectly fine to let your knees cave in and go over your toes, at times. Think about how many times you do this throughout the day. It is required when you go up/downstairs. It is required when you squat down to use the porcelain throne. How about when you sit on that kids’ chair when you are sitting and playing with your kids?
That is right, it happens throughout our day. It is not bad! In fact, some would argue that training will prepare your knee joint to undergo those movements a little better. Just some food for thought.
5) Just using machines
If this is your style of working out, just using machines, by all means keep doing it. I would rather have you continue to workout than not.
But, if you are avoiding using the barbell, dumbbells, etc. because of your fear of it causing knee pain, just stop.
Do you not realize that life is not full of machines? You are missing a huge component of preparing your body for everyday life!
The purpose of training, besides to look good naked, is to make sure your body is prepared for everyday movements. You do this by pushing your body more in the gym than you would in life to make sure it is ready to do the demands of life.
Doing your squats, lunges, deadlifts, etc. help you get ready for life. It will not cause more wear and tear on the knees.
Here’s what you can do if you need help with your knee pain:
With the increasing amount of misinformation out there regarding knee pain, it can be very confusing. Most of all the ‘information’ that is out there is trying to make you fearful of movement. Don’t let them get to you!
To help people like you who are suffering from knee pain and are afraid of what to do next, we can help you. We do offer a free initial consultation to get some of your questions answered about your knee pain. More importantly, how to get back to your active life of chasing after the kids, going on family vacations, and working out like you would like to.
These are perfect for those who:
- Have been told to not do X, Y, or Z because of your knee pain
- You have been told that your x-ray shows you have the knee of someone 20-40 years older than you currently are
- Annoyed that you keep getting told what not to do, but are unsure of what to do
Click the link below to apply for a free consultation with one of our Doctors of Physical Therapy who are knowledgeable and excel with working with the active adult and athlete and helping them regain their active lifestyle.
Other Free Resources
Our founder, and industry leader in treating the active adult and athletes, Dr. Steven Alexander has written a FREE downloadable report for anyone who is suffering from knee pain and wants to know….
“6 Simple Strategies To Relieve Knee Pain Without Medications, Surgery Or Injections”
You can also check out our other blogs on knee pain here: