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We understand that it can sometimes be difficult to exercise with knee pain. However, avoiding exercise due to knee pain can lead to muscle weakness and stiff joints which can aggravate your knee pain. We explore how you can making exercising more comfortable with knee pain through specific workouts, including resistance training (using resistance bands or weights to complete upper and lower body exercises). This section of our knee pain hub also investigates how you can prevent knee pain while running or cycling.
Ignoring the pain won't make it go away. Nor will avoiding all motions that spark discomfort. In fact, limiting your movements can weaken muscles, compounding joint trouble, and affect your posture, setting off a cascade of further problems.
And while pain relievers and cold or hot packs may offer quick relief, fixes like these are merely temporary.
The right set of exercises can be a long-lasting way to manage knee pain. If practised regularly, joint pain relief workouts might help to postpone, or even avoid surgery on a problem joint that has been worsening for years, by strengthening key supportive muscles and restoring flexibility.
Degenerative knee osteoarthritis occurs as individuals age and may occur earlier as a result of genetic predisposition or trauma to the knee. Your general health also plays a role in keeping joints flexible and strong, so general advice is to get regular exercise, keep a healthy diet and stop smoking if applicable.
It is recommended that even for individuals who have an existing knee condition, they should keep as active as possible with their knees, except for in specific circumstances. If the knee is very unstable, frequently giving way underneath you, then it is advisable to limit the knee to performing more stable activities to guard against further knee cartilage injuries.
For individuals with symptomatic cartilage tears or osteoarthritis, they should try to limit or modify any activities which are causing any significant flares of pain or swelling following these activities.
Walking on softer ground or cycling for transport is a good option for many individuals looking to remain active while managing any swelling or pain.
Unfortunately, osteoarthritis of the knee also gives rise to increased weight-bearing forces due to increase joint stiffness and the gradual reduction in the specialised, bony joint surfaces known as hyaline cartilage.
It is recommended that individuals pace their activity and don’t do too much on days when their knee is pain free, but also continue to perform a moderate amount of activity on other days. This should prevent the knee from flaring as much and also prevent the knee from becoming too stiff.
Patellofemoral (kneecap) specific knee pain tends to be aggravated with repetitive flexion movements, the worst of which is jogging. Cycling may help patellofemoral problems, as this helps to strengthen the gluteal muscles.
General recommendations for gym work is to find two to three cardiovascular machines that do not aggravate the symptoms and use these on a rotational basis or interval between them each session. Resistance work is highly recommended as it keeps the supporting quadriceps muscles strong and protects against knee joint instability which can result with persistent knee pain.
Unstable knees caused by large cartilage tears and possibly ligament disruption often require a specific gym resistance programme. This may ultimately require surgery if you've been unable to return to sports involving impact and rotational movements with appropriate rehabilitation.
Fitness regimes are most successful when they are altered every few weeks. Fortunately, changing the types of movements, intensity and number of sets and repetitions may also help offset knee pain while keeping fit.
Always make sure to warm up properly before doing any physical activity that may worsen your knee pain. Doing this will help you get more out of your workout, prepare you to stretch, and lower your risk of further injury.
Exercise should never cause pain or make your current knee pain worse. Muscle soreness after a hard workout is normal, but sharp, shooting, or sudden pain in the muscles or knee joints means you should stop and check with your doctor.
We can help get you out of pain and back to doing the things you want. It’s easy to book a consultation online with one of our experienced knee doctors.