Staying fit with bad knees


Having bad knees can make you feel like you have limited options for staying fit, but you don’t have to let your aching knees stop you from staying active.

“Exercising with knee pain is possible with the right strategies and fitness routines,” said Beaumont orthopedic sports medicine physician James Bicos, M.D.

Use these tips to reboot your fitness routine and rebuild your strength:

Knee-friendly options at the gym

For the avid gym-goer, you’ve got several options to work out while treating your knee with care. Instead of running on the treadmill, try the elliptical or exercise bike. You can also hop in the pool for a few laps. “These exercises let you get your gym fix, but you won’t stress out your joints,” Dr. Bicos said.

Other things to avoid are deep knee squats or the leg extension machine. With bad knees, squatting below 45 degrees only adds more pain. Try doing static wall squats or the recline squat machine.

Move your favorite workout class into the pool

Many people use group fitness classes as a way to stay active. Water aerobics is a great option that will go easy on your knees but keep your workouts social. Exercising in the water will reduce the impact on your knees and ensure an invigorating aerobic workout. Most major gyms or workout facilities offer a water aerobics alternative.

Walk on surfaces that are level and shock absorbent

If walking is central to your fitness routine, you’ll want to carefully choose the surface you’ll be walking on to avoid damaging your knees. Look for level surfaces that will absorb some of the impact on your joints. Choose surfaces like grass, dirt or a track and be sure to avoid concrete.

Going in the same direction for each walk also can overload a certain part of your joint. Make sure to alter your workout’s walking direction frequently.

Never underestimate a good stretch

Be sure to stretch before and after workouts. You’ll also want to try out exercises to improve your flexibility and balance. Spending the time stretching and strength training is an investment in your health.

Stretching cold muscles is also a setup for injury. Make sure to warm up with an easy walk before stretching. Remember: Heat before and ice after – heat before working out and ice achy joints down after working out.

If you’re not sure you’re healthy enough for a certain activity, don’t risk overworking an already distressed joint and instead check in with your doctor or physical therapist. They can help you choose the activities that are best for the condition of your knees.

Beaumont surgeons have the experience to help you navigate questions about knee pain and knee surgery.

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