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Knee pain and exercise modifications to help

Do you have knee pain during exercise? The prevalence of knee pain is extremely common with exercise and affects people of all ages. Thankfully, there are couple of easy things you can do to help decrease knee pain. Let’s jump on in!

What are healthy knees?

Research shows that one of the best ways to keep healthy knees is to maintain strength in the muscles above and below the knee. Exercise will obviously help out here but another benefit of the exercise is joint motion. You see, your knee joint needs motion to swish around fluid that keeps the joint surfaces healthy. This nourishing knee fluid feeds the inside of the knee and helps keep osteoarthritis at bay.

Exercise is the key for building strength to support the knee as well as keep the joint healthy. But what if you have pain with exercise like squats, stairs or lunges? Smart trainers have a lot of exercise modifications they can use to help decrease your pain while keeping you exercising!

Adjust your squat to reduce knee pain

When I train people, the first exercise we look at is squats. It’s a movement that is done everyday and there are a few easy adjustments to help decrease knee pain.

For starters, make sure you are starting the movement of a squat with the hips. I will often see clients bend their knees first as they lower into a squat. (Left image)

That knee first movement increases stress through the knee causing pain.  If you start the squat with the hips moving first, you takes the strain off of the knees. (Right image)

It’s a really easy place to start and often takes a little practice. Not sure quite what that looks like? No problem, here’s a video I made to help you along.

Modify your lunges to keep knee pain minimal

A lot of people feel knee pain and get really sore muscles from lunges. Those reasons alone are enough for most of us to skip the extremely beneficial movement. Often, the exercises that causes the most soreness are some of the best ones for us to do.

For this movement, try a reverse lunge instead of a forward lunge. Simply step backward instead of forward to lunge. This simple change decreases the stress through the knee and I find it much more kind to painful knees. You’ll still get the benefits of the lunge with less aches and pains!

Stretches to compliment the exercises

Finally, stretch your leg muscles. If the quads on the front of your leg are tight, they will increase the tension on the knee cap. This tension will cause the knee cap to press into the front of the knee when you bend during an exercise like squats or going down stairs.

Additionally, spend time stretching the hamstrings on the back of the leg as well as the calf muscles. Both of these muscle groups help support the knee and if they are tight they add tension through the joint.

Spend 20 seconds doing your favorite stretches, repeating 3 times. If you sneak these in 2-3 times per day it will do wonders to relieve knee tension.

You can read more about healthy knees here.

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