Ask the Doctor | Good Exercise Options for People with “Bad Knees”
Having “bad knees” is a common complaint for patients of all ages. But there are many reasons for knee pain no matter how old you are, and seeing a doctor is certainly recommended to diagnose the cause. While proper treatment is crucial to motility, remaining in an active lifestyle is equally an important pursuit to help ensure longevity of your overall health. In fact, exercise can help stabilize the knee and alleviate some pain issues born of stiffness or due to lack of activity, but exercise can also aid in warding off major health problems such as cardiovascular disease and even cancer.
Of course, the best exercises for knees certainly depend on the source of individual pain, but in general, there are some low impact options that are kinder to compromised knees that can keep you active while you continue to manage or treat your knee pain.
- Walking for low impact. If arthritis is causing you knee pain, walking might be the solution for you. In fact, a regular walking routine can reduce stiffness and inflammation and won’t generally contribute to worsening chronic conditions. According to the CDC, walking keeps your heart and bones strong and joints working as you age. Just try to build strength and endurance slowly, listen to your body as you limit exercise time and make walking on softer surfaces with flat, flexible athletic shoes a priority.
- Swimming for cardio. Swimming is an enjoyable activity that’s good for almost everyone–and a great calorie-burning exercise. It alleviates weight placed on the knees and joints, while allowing movement with less pain. Swimming also has the ability to work all your muscles, toning the back, strengthening the stomach and working out arms and legs. For some extra training, many gyms with pools offer water aerobics classes that provide the benefit of a weights or resistance workout without the added pressure on your joints you’d have in a traditional gym session.
- Try the elliptical. If you belong to a gym, or are in the market for some home equipment, the elliptical machine is a great option as well. It enables the same motions of running without the impact on the knees. The great thing about the elliptical machine is that it works out arms, too, giving full body benefit while allowing you to decide how long or how hard to train. Additionally, if you’re recovering from a knee injury, it can even improve your knee health by providing an opportunity to build leg strength through the use of resistance settings.
- Biking. While this workout will require you to consult your doctor about the safety of biking with your particular knee problem, it can be a good option for bad knees. Cycling is even often recommended by doctors as a good recovery option from knee injuries. If the particular motions cause you pain, try adjusting the settings on your bike at the gym or the length of time you exercise to work up stamina and strength slowly. Done outdoors as well as in, investing in a real bike (as opposed to a stationary one) may be one of the most beneficial things you’ll ever do if getting fresh air is something you love.
- Try Yoga! Yoga is an extremely popular exercise that offers a myriad of benefits for health and fitness, including reduction of chronic pain, the promotion of relaxation and the ability to build strength and stamina. Because it’s often low impact, yoga can be enjoyed by almost anyone and can range in intensity depending on preference and skill level. Yoga helps building core muscles, improving muscle tone and flexibility, and poses can always be modified to provide less stress on knees.
While the above are great ways to stay in shape even if you experience knee pain, Dr. Irvine can advise you on the specifics of your situation for recovery from injury or management of chronic conditions and will ensure optimal safety—and enjoyment–in your exercise routine. Contact us for a consultation today!