Your knees take a beating day in and day out. Every step you take puts a force equal to 1.5 times your bodyweight on your knees—and that’s when you’re walking on level ground. That force is greater on an incline, and even an activity as simple as squatting to tie your shoelace puts a force equal to four or five times your bodyweight on your knees.
For someone experiencing knee pain due to an injury or recent knee surgery, simply walking can be excruciating. If that someone is you, exercise may be the furthest thing from your mind. However, the right kinds of exercise can be beneficial for your knees in a few ways.
First, exercise helps with weight loss, and even small amounts of weight loss can significantly reduce the force on your knees. Exercise also helps to strengthen the joints and surrounding muscle and tissues, which in turn can relieve pain.
If you are suffering from knee pain, try these five knee-friendly exercises to reap the benefits of exercise without causing any additional knee pain.
Cycling: Hop on a bike for a low-impact exercise that will help strengthen the knee joint and surrounding tissues without applying too much force to the joint. A recumbent bike (which places the rider in a reclining position) may be more comfortable, depending on your pain level.
Swimming: Not only is swimming refreshing in the hot summer months, but it’s also one of the best exercises for your knees. Water makes you weightless, so any form of water exercise is a great way to boost your cardio and strengthen your body without exerting any force on your joints. Try swimming laps, or join a water aerobics class to get in a cardio workout at the pool.
Stair Step-Ups: Increase flexibility and strength in your knees with stair step-ups. Stand with your left foot on a stair or step and slowly step up until all of your weight is on your left foot. Tap the toe of your right foot to the step and place your right foot back on the ground. Repeat six to 10 times and repeat on the opposite leg.
Knee Rolls: Relax and release joint pain with knee rolls. Lying on your back, bend your knees up until your feet are flat on the floor. Slowly lower both knees to one side, keeping your knees together. Hold for 10 seconds, lift your knees back to center, and then lower them to the other side and hold. Repeat 10 times on each side.
Rowing: Rowing on the water or on the machine at the gym is one of the few types of cardio exercise that engages your whole body. Rowing is great for posture and will build muscle strength in the legs, arms, back and core. Like swimming and cycling, rowing is a low-impact exercise that allows you to get a good workout in without putting too much force on the knees.
Discuss your exercise plans with your doctor before beginning any workout routine, especially if you have recently undergone knee surgery.