Exercising with chronically achy, stiff knees is likely the last thing you feel like doing. Yet, research has shown that if you stop moving or exercising altogether, it only worsens. That’s because being immobile can increase knee pain.
Anyone suffering from osteoarthritis (OA) in the knees may avoid walking because of the pain. Yet, one of the best ways to keep knees mobile and with less progressive pain is walking.
Osteoarthritis of the knee can significantly limit everyday tasks such as walking around, getting in or out of a car, or climbing upstairs. As a result, people with this degenerative disease often are not obtaining the recommended amount of daily exercise they need.
Anyone with OA of the knees needs to have their doctor’s approval before beginning an exercise program. The doctor can make a plan or they may be referred to a physical therapist who will outline a plan of action to keep the knee as movable as possible, helping reduce pain and stiffness.
Certain steps must be taken to protect the knees before becoming more physically active. Here are specific tips to keep in mind regarding what to do and what to avoid when exercising with knee pain:
What to do when exercising with knee pain
- Walk it out. This is likely the best total body activity good for cardiovascular health and your knees. Starting, don’t overdo it. Instead, ease into it gently by walking only a few minutes to start and then gradually build up from there. Always walk on an even surface such as an indoor walking track or treadmill to prevent tripping and falling.
- Have pool fun. Join a water aerobics class for low-impact moves that reduce stress and strain on your knees. Just the buoyancy of the water makes a knee-friendly environment along with a cardiovascular workout and gentle joint movement.
- Carry only light loads. Avoid lifting anything heavy that puts too much strain on your knees.
- Know what exercises to do and not to do. While moderate walking and doing water aerobics are great ways to keep active and gentle on your knees, you need to avoid specific exercise. These include running, jumping, or doing deep squats, for example. These moves will strain your knee joint putting you at risk for more pain or damage to your knees.
- Knee-friendly equipment. If walking is becoming boring, there are other activities gentle to your knees. For example, elliptical machines and stationary recumbent bikes are practical and helpful exercise equipment that reduces stress and excessive load on your knees and are fun to do.
What to avoid when exercising with knee pain
- Resting your knee too much. When your knees hurt, it’s hard to be physically active. Taking it easy seems like a better plan. But, resting your knees too much weakens muscles in the leg and can make knee pain worse.
- Avoid running. Running is a high-impact activity that will place more stress on not only your knees but other joints too.
- Avoid movements that bend the knee too much. It is advised that when you have painful knees, avoid exercises such as lunges and squats. The type of movement they require puts excessive amount of stress and pressure on your knee joints.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncolo gy and prostate cancer 911.