How to Exercise with Bad Knees and Knee Pain

I have been dealing with knee pain since 2010. In that decade it has worsened to the point of constant pain, swelling and at times, being unable to use stairs. Knee joints are the most commonly affected joint for degeneration and osteoarthritis. Knees are also one of the most common reasons for disability in the U.S. I have been an avid exerciser (sometimes over-exerciser) and runner since I was a child. My knees have taken a beating.

It has been unequivocally proven that strengthening thigh and hip muscles does reduce knee pain and in some cases eliminates it altogether. As well, exercising is critical for keeping the range of motion in the knee joints to allow everyday movement and function.

I have compiled a list of stretches and exercises that are said by various sources to be less strenuous on knees. You MUST talk to your doctor and/or physical therapist before participating in activities that may contribute to pain or injury to your knees including the fitness suggestions in this article.

Since COVID has reduced or eliminated gym time it has been doubly hard to exercise without a treadmill, eliptical, rowing machine and exercise bike. I am not going back to the gym until COVID is dramatically reduced in our community because I am at high risk and my husband has no immune system due to the kidney transplant. Therefore, I will be providing exercises that can be done at home without expensive equipment.

Some exercises may be easier or more difficult depending on the severity of your knee issues. Please modify to the best of your abilities and skip those that may cause further pain or damage.

Stretching is Essential

Doing stretches to warm up muscles is important. So is doing low impact cardio to get your blood pumping before engaging in your exercise routine. Warming up for 5 minutes is a good amount of time. Here are a few ideas:

  • Walking and pumping your arms for cardio
  • Quad Stretch
  • Hamstring Stretch
  • Reclined Hip Stretch

Strong Thighs and Hips Relieve Knee Pain

As well, weak thighs and hips are a min cause of knee pain! In my experience, there are not many exercises that don’t hurt my knees which has meant that my muscles have gotten considerably weaker. It is a defeating cycle. Here are some exercises that can strengthen thighs and hips. . .

  • Leg Raises
  • Prone Straight Leg Raises
  • Wall Sits
  • Step Ups
  • Side Leg Raises
  • Clamshells

Aerobic Exercise Ideas

  • Walking as fast as possible while pumping arms
  • Riding a bike
  • Scissor kicks
  • Low impact jumping jacks
  • Lunges
  • High knees without jumping

I am unable to do some of these exercises due to pain and swelling but I incorporate and modify whatever I can to get a workout. Listen to your body, avoid activities that cause pain and make exercise and stretching a daily habit.

You may like to read:

5 Stretches that Relieve Stress Instantly

How to Recover From Jumpers Knee/Patellar Tendonitis

The Difference Between Runner’s Knee and Jumper’s Knee

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