Knee injuries, knee pain and general wear and tear in the joints are common to many people – and should be taken into consideration when choosing your exercises.
There are many common types of knee injuries, according to James McMillian, head trainer at Tone House, a strength and conditioning gym in New York City. You may be dealing with an issue like an ACL tear, tendinitis, arthritis, and more. Because of this, what you should and shouldn’t do for the health of your knee may vary depending on what you’re dealing with. But in general, some types of movements are not good for any type of knee injury.
As a general rule, “fOr general knee pain, you want to avoid most movements that bother it,” said Minky Kim, founder and head coach of Han Training in Chicago. So if you feel pain or notice swelling, you will need to avoid the exercise that caused that sensation.
But specifically, some exercises are not recommended for those with knee problems. Below, experts share what they are and what to try instead:
It might go without saying, but if you’re dealing with a knee problem, you don’t want to do any exercises that involve jumping.
High-impact activity can be irritating to general knee pain, which includes explosive movements, Kim said. So be Beware of jumping jacks, jump rope, jump squats or any vertical jump.
They added, “If someone is an avid basketball player or has to do something that requires a lot of jumping, I would avoid those moves, too.”
Traction running, which involves running on hard surfaces, isn’t recommended for people with knee problems, said Patrick Maloney, chief athletic trainer at the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine in New Orleans.
“My advice is someone with knee problems… If you’re running outside, be aware of the surface you’re running on,” said Maloney. “If you want to run outside, instead of running on concrete or sidewalk, find a grassy area to run or a dirt area.”
But remember that running on a softer surface still takes a toll on your joints, which can be painful. Maloney said this is because running puts a lot of weight on those areas.
“Even better, ride a bike or an elliptical machine, as that doesn’t affect your knee joints — it can provide a good workout without all that impact,” he noted.
The next best thing, especially for older people with knee problems, Maloney said, is walking. Walking is both a challenge and a good workout; It also has benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, and is good for your mental health, too.
Deep squats and lunges
Squats and lunges will create tension on your knee, McMillian said, making it unsafe to do them at the full range. “If you’ve had a previous knee injury … you may want to do three-quarter squats to get you built up,” McMillian said.
In addition, Kim said that effeminate squats, which require you to be on your toes and bend back as your knees drop to the floor, are not a good exercise for someone with knee pain.
Maloney said the squat can be a good alternative for people who are looking to do a squat but can’t do the typical movement safely. For this move, you simply touch your butt to the top of the chair while squatting instead of going over a 90-degree angle, Maloney said.
“It helps determine how low you go,” Maloney added.
Exercises with quick direction changes
Movements that require you to twist or rotate can be a real problem for people with bad knees, McMillian said. (And these movements can cause knee injuries, too.) He explained that this includes dance, martial arts, basketball and football.
“They have to avoid that change of direction and twisting and all that until they build more stability in their knees and their structure,” McMillian said. The twisting and rotating that occurs can ruin the tension in your knee, and if your knee is unstable while exercising, you risk injuring yourself.
“Unless you have a knee sleeve or a compression sleeve that gives you that stability when pivoting or changing directions, you really want to be careful with that lateral movement like side shuffles and jigs and side jumps — you really want to avoid [them]McMillian added.
“I would say any type of Olympic lifting or explosive lifting,” Maloney said, “is definitely another exercise to avoid.”
Examples include lifting a barbell above your head or doing a barbell squat or deadlift, “where you take the bar off the ground and lift it above your head,” he says. “These types of elevators are explosive movements.”
Instead, Maloney recommended using a controlled weight machine at the gym that won’t cause as much of an impact on your joints.
Water-based activities and the right equipment help add to the comfort
Kim said many people with joint pain turn to water motions for exercise. This can include water aerobics and water movement with weights. Additionally, swimming has been found to help reduce joint pain and stiffness in people with osteoarthritis, according to a study published in the Journal of Rheumatology.
“It just reduces the amount of weight you’re putting on your joints, especially on your knees,” Kim said. “You can kind of float and move around feeling more comfortable and less stressed by the effect of gravity.”
Some products on the market can also protect your knees. According to McMillian, knee sleeves can help stabilize your knee tracking. A knee sleeve can help your body deal with the impact and inflammation that occurs while running. Specifically, the Hyperice is a useful knee sleeve that uses contrast therapy, so it “goes from hot to cold, helping you with inflammation, blood flow, circulation, and different things.”
McMillian also recommended knee braces for walking: “TThe hat will release a little bit of pressure on your knee while you’re walking, so if you have something like arthritis, that’s great – it just adds a little structure to your knee. He said you can also wear a knee strap when you go on a long trip.
In addition, he said it’s important to have athletic shoes with good cushioning, which can help with the effect exercise has on your joints.
Think holistically about your body
“I find that more severe injuries such as a strain or sprain can often come from tightness elsewhere or limited range of motion,” Kim said. And everything is so connected that if one of the parts is screwed up and you move it a little bit wrong, it’s kind of [have] A domino effect on the rest of your body.”
They said it was important to look at the joints above and below the affected joint – how tight are the hips or calf muscles? Could this be contributing to your pain?
“N“Nothing works in isolation from our body,” Maloney added. You want to make sure you’re stretching all the different parts of your body, warming up properly, cooling down, and taking rest days.
“If your problem is the knee, you can focus on the knee joint, but you also have to address weaknesses in the hip, flexibility issues in the hip, or tightness in the ankle joints that can cause you some kind of pain in different areas,” Maloney said.
In addition, you should take your knee or any pain in your body seriously. If you’re experiencing knee problems, Maloney recommends going to an orthopedic surgeon to see what’s going on and get advice tailored to your specific problem. It is important not to neglect your health, and pain is often a sign of a larger problem.
“Pain is great, and people kind of say pain is bad, but pain is there to tell us if we’re doing something bad” to our body, Maloney said.