How to exercise with bad knees

Whether your knee pain is due to arthritis, injury, or another issue, there are ways to stay active without exacerbating your condition.

In this article, we’ll explore strategies and exercises to help you maintain an active lifestyle while taking care of your knees.

This is generic exercise advice, for your specific concerns please consult your trusted healthcare professional.

Please enjoy this 19 min live video recording, or you may want to continue reading for a brief overview.

The last thing we want to do if we sustain a knee injury is to stop moving altogether, here’s why:

  • Our muscles will start to atrophy (lose strength and mass) fairly quickly. Maintaining some level of activity, even if it’s limited, helps to preserve muscle strength.
  • Immobility can lead to joint stiffness and reduced range of movement.
  • We need to encourage blood circulation for the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the injured tissues.
  • Inactivity can have a detrimental effect on our mental health.

It’s important to note that the type and intensity of movement should be guided by your specific injury and the advice of your healthcare professional. In some cases, complete rest may be necessary initially to allow for healing.

1: Get a diagnosis

Different knee injuries, such as ligament tears, meniscus tears, or arthritis, require distinct treatment approaches. Treating the wrong condition can worsen the injury and delay recovery.

Knowing the exact nature and extent of your knee injury is essential for planning an effective rehabilitation program. Physiotherapists can design exercises that target your specific injury, facilitating a quicker and more complete recovery.

2: Follow your rehab plan

Consistently following the plan ensures that you’re giving your injured knee the best chance to recover fully and efficiently.

A weakened or improperly rehabilitated knee can lead to secondary injuries. For instance, favouring one leg due to knee pain can result in hip or back problems. A well-structured rehab plan minimises the risk of such secondary injuries.

Successfully completing your rehab plan can boost your confidence in your knee’s ability to function without pain or limitations. This confidence is crucial for returning to sports or activities you enjoy.

3: Strength training

1: Upper Body Strength – Continuing your upper body training can maintain or even improve your overall strength while allowing your knee to heal. Many upper body strength exercises can also elevate your heart rate and provide cardiovascular benefits.

Here’s a 30-minute Upper Body Strength session you may like to try. Part 1: WEIGHTS Part 2: SBF BANDS

2: Lower Body Strength – Strength training can be a valuable component of rehabilitation for many knee injuries, but it’s crucial to choose exercises that are safe and appropriate for your specific condition. The suitability of strength training exercises will depend on the type and severity of your knee injury, as well as your healthcare provider’s recommendations.

Here’s a 30-minute Lower Body Strength session that may be suitable for you. Please check with your trusted health care professional before attempting any of these exercises. Part 1: WEIGHTS Part 2: SBF BANDS

4: Core

Core exercises are a great option whilst overcoming a knee injury:

  • Many core exercises don’t require stress on the knee joint.
  • Improve your overall body stability and reduce the risk of developing compensatory movements or muscle imbalances due to the knee injury.
  • Often involve movements that promote spinal flexibility and overall mobility.
  • Many daily activities, such as getting out of a chair, walking, or climbing stairs, require a stable core for proper execution. Strengthening your core can make these activities easier to perform while reducing the strain on your knees.
Here’s a 10-minute Core session you may like to try. Please use modifications where necessary.

5: Cardiovascular

Choose low-impact cardiovascular exercises that are gentle on your knee whilst still providing an effective workout (check with your healthcare professional if these are suitable).

Stationary biking is a great option and is commonly included in knee rehab plans as they offer several benefits:

  • Low impact.
  • Allows you to gently move the knee through a controlled range.
  • Helps strengthen the muscles around the knee which will provide stability and support for the joint.
  • Control of the resistance level – gradually working your way up to a higher resistance.

Other cardiovascular exercise that may be suitable

  • Walking
  • Swimming with a pool buoy.
  • Boxing.
  • Ski erg (with less knee bend).
  • Stand up paddle boarding.
  • Elliptical trainer.
  • Water aerobics.

You make a life out of what you have, not what you’re missing.

Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden
Before and after collage with a female body on the left showing and overweight female and the body on the right showing the same person but 10kg lighter.

Anonymous: I feel like a completely different person after only 4 weeks of eating your recipes and walking! Thank you so much for your program and making it easy to follow.

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