Exercise can often be the last thing on the mind of someone suffering from a chronic knee pain condition. And as research indicates, many people who have degenerative diseases of the knee, such as osteoarthritis, don’t get anywhere close to the recommended amount of daily exercise activity that they should.
Further, plenty of studies show the enormous benefits of regular exercise on knee health and the protective advantages it can offer in keeping the structures, tissues and ligaments of the knee protected from damage now, and later in life. As long as you clear it with your physician first, you might be surprised at the knee pain relief and active lifestyle benefits that can come with introducing exercise into your daily routine.
Armed with a few tips for what to do and what not to do, you’ll be on your way to healthier living, in no time.
Exercising With Knee Pain: What to Avoid
- Don’t overdo it on rest. Contrary to popular belief, too much rest for an achy knee can weaken the muscles in the leg and may worsen knee joint pain.
- Don’t run. No matter what surface you choose to run on (paved road, natural terrain or treadmill), running is a high-impact activity that places tremendous stress and force on every joint in the body, including the knees. Avoid high-impact activities when you’ve got active knee pain.
- Don’t excessively bend the knees. Exercises like lunges and squats can be exceptionally bothersome for people experiencing knee pain. These types of activities can put excessive strain and pressure on already painful knees, which can discourage people from the otherwise fantastic knee health benefits of exercise.
- Don’t exercise through acute pain. Achiness or muscle fatigue is common during or after a strenuous workout. However, sudden, sharp or shooting pains in the knees are an indication that the offending activity should be immediately stopped.
Exercising With Knee Pain: What to Do
- Take to the water. For people with chronic knee pain, exercising in the water can be one low-impact way to reduce stress on the knee joints while still reaping exercise’s cardiovascular, joint and overall health benefits.
- Lighten the load. Putting too much strain on an ailing knee joint can be a recipe for further injury. Avoid exercises that jar the joints – such as running, jumping or deep squats that load the knees with lots of force. Opt for gentler activities that help you maintain fitness but don’t put your achy knees at risk for further pain or damage.
- Walk it out. Walking is a great total-body cardiovascular activity that can benefit people with achy knees. Be sure not to go too far or for too long if you’re in moderate to severe pain, and make sure that the walking surface is even, without too much uphill or downhill variation, so that you don’t risk tripping and falling.
- Mind the equipment. Today, there are so many exercise apparatuses that allow for knee-friendly exercise while eliminating or reducing stress on the knees. Elliptical machines and recumbent stationary bikes are practical and helpful tools for enhancing fitness while reducing the stress, load and impact on the knees.
Joints Need Lubrication
From my personal experience, I know it can be a mental challenge to exercise when our knees hurt. It seems like we should sit down and rest, doesn’t it? While that can be good advice for the immediate time after an acute knee injury (24 to 48 hours), it isn’t the best course of action long term.
All of the joints in our bodies, including our knees, need lubrication to function correctly. How do they get that lubrication? Through movement.
If your knee pain has you sidelined, talk to your doctor about what you can begin doing to get you moving more. You might be surprised at what the exercise can do not only for your knee pain but also for your spirits!
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