Our knees are involved in nearly all physical activities we complete, so it’s no wonder they are often one of the first signs of injury our bodies display. Constant movement in and around the knee joint can lead to chronic knee pain. But if you don’t want to give up exercising and keeping mobilised is recommended, finding an exercise which helps but doesn’t hurt can be tough to find.
Whilst there are a number of recommended exercises you can take up, it’s always best to know the benefits of each beforehand. So let’s take a look at some of the knee exercises which will keep you healthy and not damage your knee in the process.
Swimming is one of the best exercises for bad knees as it works out the whole body at relatively low impact. Through working all major muscle groups in the body – abdominals, chest muscles, glutes etc – knees aren’t the only area being impacted, allowing for a great full body workout.
By allowing you to place less pressure on the knee joint, swimming still enables the knee to be involved in the workout. In order to receive the full benefits of swimming it is recommended that you aim for around 150 minutes per week. The best swimming strokes for bad knees are front crawl, backstroke and butterfly, but be careful swimming breast stroke as the kicking action could damage knees more in this stroke.
If running has left your knees in a state of despair, but you can’t bear to give up hitting the tarmac, then a cross trainer could be the perfect solution. Ensuring your feet don’t leave the pedals, the impact on knees and other areas such as your back, neck and hips are impacted far less, leaving you with little pain and everything to gain.
Cross trainers are good at working out the whole body, as your feet move in a swinging motion on the pedals, you also have the option to use handles which work in conjunction with the foot pedals. Building up the intensity of your workout and increasing the resistance, cross trainers allow you to work to what your body can handle and increase the impact of your workout accordingly. In order to really see the benefits which are comparable to running it’s likely you’ll need to work slightly harder, but by swapping running for the cross trainers your knees will certainly thank you for it.
Exercising doesn’t always mean you need the gym, the latest high tech equipment or a routine to rival even the best athletes to get a good workout. Using a step on the stairs or even buying a low cost aerobic step, place one foot on top of the step and bring the other up to join it, lower and repeat the movement.
For best practice your knee should be directly over your ankle and by repeating the step movement equally on each leg you’ll improve explosive leg power and strengthen knee joints. Step ups also help to lessen the impact on your lower back and improve symmetry and balance, both of which help to improve overall posture and give you better lower body strength.
Even if your knees are playing up, it doesn’t mean you should stop exercising altogether and one of the best things you can do when you have bad knees is work to strengthen your lower body. Biking can help to improve flexibility in your knee joint and strength.
Whilst you could get on an outdoor bike and tackle the pavements it’s best to stick to a flat even surface and use a stationary bike. When adjusting the settings on the bike make sure you’re seated properly to avoid straining the knee to reach the pedal or being too hunched up that the movement is limited.
Incorporate leg raises into your exercise routine to help strengthen the area surrounding your knee called your quadriceps. This exercise is best to start your journey to better knees as it will allow you to start slowly and build up as the condition of your knee improves.
Lie on your back and bend one knee with your foot flat on the floor, with the other leg laid out stretched. Raise the leg to the same height as your opposite knee and repeat the movement for 10 times and around 3 sets before starting on the other leg.
Knee pain can leave you feeling like there are no other options out there, but by incorporating these simple exercises into your routine you won’t miss out on your workout. For more on how knee pain is caused then take a look at our rundown of some common knee ailments.