If you have knee pain, you might be wondering if it is safe to exercise when experiencing pain in one or both of your knees. I get this question all the time.
There are at least two trains of thought on this.
Maybe you are thinking you are in too much pain to be able to get through a workout so you opt out of exercise all together. Or perhaps you are willing to push past the pain but you are unsure of what exercises are knee friendly and which ones will help alleviate the pain. Either way, there is a lot of conflicting information out there about working out with knee pain.
But not to worry. Today is your lucky day because I am here to clear things up for you!
One of the most common causes of knee pain is osteoarthritis. While osteoarthritis can cause your legs to feel achy and stiff, it doesn’t preclude you from exercising. Quite the contrary actually. Focusing on knee-strengthening exercises can help support the affected joint and protect it from further aggravation.
Maybe you don’t have osteoarthritis but you have had knee surgery. You might be leery of exercise because your knee still hurts and you are fearful of re-injuring or compromising your surgical procedure. If you are a current patient who is reading this I can tell you specifically what you can do that is appropriate for your specific prognosis. If you are not a current patient, you can definitely still reach out and let me know a little more about what procedure you had done in order to get a better idea of what is appropriate for your post-op stage of recovery. Without seeing you for myself it is hard to say exactly where you are in your recovery. But I can tell you that it is absolutely safe to exercise with knee pain.
Hear me when I tell you it needs to be graded to your specific injury, procedure and stage of recovery.
If you are reading this and you don’t check either of those boxes, stay with me.
Maybe you don’t have arthritis. And maybe you haven’t had a knee injury or surgery but you still have knee pain. You might not be sure what is causing it. Or maybe you know exactly what is causing it but you are working on being as active as you can to decrease the amount of pressure you have on your joints. Life doesn’t slow down for pain so why should you? Staying active and working out is the best thing you can do for knee pain!
There are plenty of knee friendly exercises that you can do to stay active and work through some of the pain you are experiencing. As I mentioned above, the exercise should be graded to your specific knee pain but movement is the best medicine for pain. Joints need lubrication and motion is lotion when it comes to joint lubrication. The more you move, the better lubricated your joints will be.
Walking, swimming, yoga, and strength training are all great options for knee pain.
- Walking is great for overall movement and an everyday activity that is underrated as a form of exercise. Brisk walking can elevate your heart rate, improve circulation and help increase mobility in the knees, ankles and hips.
- Swimming helps take pressure off your joints while providing a substantial amount of cardio. The water provides resistance which helps strengthen the muscles.
- Yoga and Pilates can help increase range of motion, improve strength, balance and stability and increase overall circulation. It is a knee friendly exercise because it helps stretch and strengthen the muscles with low impact movements.
- Strength training is my favorite because of the variability. There are so many different exercises you can do to improve your strength, balance, endurance and flexibility. Strength training has also been proven to improve bone density as well as strengthen tendons and ligaments. And we all know that strength training can improve cardiovascular function which is an added bonus to relieving your knee pain! And, it makes you much harder to kill.
Regardless of which form of exercise you choose, the biggest take-away is to keep moving. It is safe to workout with knee pain. In fact, it is encouraged!
But if you still have doubts or questions, please reach out to me. I am happy to help put together a program that is specific to your knee pain so you can feel confident about addressing the pain and working towards alleviating the source of the pain.
Knee pain is a prevalent topic within my patients at Spark Performance which is why I have created a number of resources to answer all of your questions.
Check out my Knee Pain Guide to read six simple strategies to relieve knee pain.
You can also read more on the topic of Knee Pain in these articles