Exercise is extremely important for your health and well-being. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find the time to work out. It’s even harder to motivate yourself when your knees are already aching.
You may encounter this dilemma because the symptoms of osteoarthritis and other knee conditions often develop as you age. However, there are specific principles and exercises that will help you stay active with a minimum level of discomfort.
General Principles For Exercising With Achy Knees
1. Manage your weight. Every pound of body weight puts four more pounds of pressure on your knees. Take extra weight off gradually to preserve muscle and bone strength.
2. Strength training is the key. Developing powerful thigh muscles enables your knees to absorb shock better. You’ll reduce your risk of injuries and increase your chances of a full recovery if you do have an accident.
3. Stretch to increase your flexibility. After you warm up, do gentle stretches for your quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. Stretching lengthens your muscles and makes your knees more resilient.
4. Straighten your back. Lower your shoulders and open your chest. Let your abdominal muscles support most of your weight.
5. Align your knees. Take a load off your kneecaps. Whether you’re doing a squat or a yoga warrior pose, keep your knees over your ankles. Avoid letting them extend over your toes where they can be damaged easily.
6. Engage in low and no impact workouts. Swimming and bicycle riding condition your heart without putting much pressure on your knees. Look for aerobic classes and videos that let you keep your feet on the floor rather than jumping around.
7. Target your knees. While you may try to avoid strenuous routines, physical activity is still good for your joints. It increases synovial fluids that lubricate and nourish connective tissue.
8. Include surrounding muscles. In addition to your thighs, your hips and buttocks also play a key role in keeping your knees safe. Developing lower body strength and flexibility will make it easier to use good form and stay fit all over.
9. Be consistent. It may take several weeks before you notice increased mobility and fewer aches. Be patient and keep working out.
10. Talk with your doctor. If you already have arthritis or other conditions, ask your doctor what exercises are safe for you. Follow their recommendations to make the best progress.
Specific Exercises That Are Gentle On Your Knees
1. Half squats. When you do squats, lower yourself only halfway down to the floor to make them easier on your knees. Over time, you may be able to work up to full squats.
2. Straight leg lifts. Straight leg lifts can be done in a seated, standing, or lying down position. These are great for targeting your thighs from all angles. Avoid locking your knees to further reduce the stress on them.
3. Stair climbing. Take the stairs instead of the elevator when you’re going to a higher floor. On the other hand, use the elevator when you’re headed down because the descent places a tremendous load on your joints. You can also use a single step or block to strengthen your knees.
4. Walking. Taking a walk is a practical and affordable activity that almost everyone can fit into their daily or weekly schedule. In order to protect your feet and knees, walk on flat surfaces and wear supportive shoes.
Exercises that build strong, flexible knees will help you stay mobile and pain free at any age. Maintain a healthy weight and use good form. If you require extra assistance, talk with your doctor or physical therapist.