How to Adapt Your Workouts With Knee Pain

How to Adapt Your Workouts With Knee Pain

If you have knee pain, you probably already know that you need to make modifications to make your daily tasks easier δΈ€, and exercise is no exception. However, you don't need to abandon your exercise altogether. With the right approach and modifications, you can adapt your workouts to accommodate knee discomfort while reaping physical activity benefits.

Here are some helpful tips to keep you moving safely and effectively, courtesy of the International Spine, Pain & Performance Center team in Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Virginia.

1. Switch to low-impact exercises

Low-impact activities are more gentle on the knees. Examples include swimming, gentle yoga, biking, or using an elliptical machine. These activities still provide the cardiovascular and mental health benefits of exercise without putting excessive stress on your knee joints.

Be cautious with any exercise that includes jumping, pounding on the ground (such as running), or any movement that isolates your body weight on one knee at a time, like the stair machine.

2. Include range of motion exercises too

Exercise isn't just about building lean muscle mass. Some exercises help improve your range of motion. Perform gentle stretches and range-of-motion exercises to improve flexibility and reduce knee stiffness. Include movements like knee bends, leg swings, and calf stretches to help maintain joint mobility.

3. Use the proper form

No matter what workout you are trying, always use the proper form. Pay attention to your body mechanics to avoid putting undue strain on your knees. If you're doing reps, never sacrifice form for quantity. If you can't keep the right posture because you're fatigued, pause and take a break before continuing.

In addition to using proper form, avoid overextension or hyperextension of your knees.

4. Wear the right shoes

According to research, the “right” type of shoes for knee pain are supportive shoes with thick soles that don’t bend too much. Shoes with thin and flexible soles didn’t provide as much protection against knee pain.

5. Add leg day to your weekly workout routine

Your quadriceps and your hamstrings support your knee. When your leg muscles are strong, they can help take the brunt of the impact when you step. Strong quads can even help you avoid a knee replacement. 

Conditioning exercises help tone and stretch the leg muscles that support your knee joint. Examples of conditioning exercises include half squats, heel cord stretches, supine hamstring stretches, and hamstring curls.

6. Listen to your body

Adjust your intensity or activity as needed if you experience any discomfort or pain during exercise. If you need to stop, then do so. No workout (or game, for that matter) is worth further injuring your knee.

7. Schedule a physical therapy appointment 

If you need clarification about which exercises are safe for your knees or how to modify your workouts effectively, feel free to ask for help. During physical therapy here at International Spine, Pain & Performance Center, your therapist recommends the right exercises and stretches for your knee pain.

In addition to exercises, therapeutic treatments such as massage, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy, or hydrotherapy may also be beneficial.

When to pause all exercise

If you’re exercising (even with modifications), there are a few warning signs that you should stop all activity and get your knee examined. This includes:

These symptoms could be related to a sports injury, such as a torn meniscus or an ACL tear. The good news is our team can help you manage knee pain whether you're dealing with a sports injury or an underlying health condition such as osteoarthritis. 

Regardless of why your knee hurts, our team is here to reduce your pain and improve your knee functionality. To explore your treatment options, call the location of your choice or use our online form to request an appointment.


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