The knees are the largest and strongest joints in the human body. And they need to be! Even just a simple step can put pressure up to 5 times the weight of your body on your knees. For this reason, knee pain and dysfunction are extraordinarily common for people of all fitness backgrounds. Is there anything we can do to protect our knees and move without pain? Fortunately, there is!
Visit a Doctor
This may be our most important tip. If you are experiencing knee pain, we highly recommend that you consult your physician before continuing exercise or starting something new. Doctors are in the best position to recommend preventative measures for conditions like Osteoarthritis, or spot an issue before it gets worse! Osteoarthritis can develop when the cartilage between the bones and joints wears down over time. There are treatment options to help mitigate the pain associated with osteoarthritis, but there is no way to reverse the loss of that cartilage. The goal is to avoid the onset of osteoarthritis in the first place, and maintaining a healthy body weight is key. There is no need to start an extreme fitness routine or diet. Small changes create a big impact, and your knees will thank you!
Invest in your Footwear
Custom orthotics or shoes fit for your foot and stride can make a world of difference for your knees. Shoe technology is not always a gimmick. The right footwear can hold your foot in its proper position to prevent the kind of twisting and shifting that irritates the knee joint. Certain cushioning can absorb some of the shock and impact created by the foot striking hard surfaces. Change your shoes out frequently–at least once a year. When it’s time for a new pair, we recommend that you get fitted for shoes by a professional at a running store.
Warm up the Knees Before Exercise
Now that you’re cleared for exercise and you’ve got the proper gear, you’re ready to start your workout. If done safely, exercise is the most effective non-surgical intervention for osteoarthritis. Every workout should start with a gentle warm-up. This is important for the muscles, but also the joints! For joint mobility, a dynamic warm-up (as opposed to static stretches) is a better choice to prevent pain and injury from your workout. For the knees specifically, a quick ride on a stationary bike, either upright or recumbent, is a nice option. Keep the pace and resistance relatively low for three to five minutes, just to get the knees warm and mobile. You could also try a set of bodyweight squats or lunges.
Incorporate Low-Impact Workouts
So many of our members love running and HIIT, and so do we! But, even if you aren’t experiencing any knee pain, we recommend introducing some variety into your workout schedule that will take the pressure off of your knees. You may need to experiment with different formats and machines. Some people love indoor cycling or the elliptical for knee pain, and others may find that these irritate their knees. Explore different low-impact workouts to find what works for you–swimming is a great option!
Strength for the Knees
While we’re talking low-impact exercise, every person could benefit from some low-impact strength training to build the muscles that support and protect the knees: the quadriceps, hamstrings, calves, glutes, and abdominals, just to name a few! You can try this simple set of movements to help work the lower body. You may also want to work with a personal trainer. Your trainer will create workouts specifically for your goals and watch you closely for form. Knee pain can make working out feel intimidating. A supportive professional can help you develop a safe and accessible fitness plan.
Do you have other tips for healing or relieving knee pain? We want to know what works for you!